After several months of debate, the Howard County Council agreed on a tax-relief measure for nonprofit swim clubs.

The council voted Monday in favor of a bill sponsored by Councilwoman Courtney Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat, that allows pools to sell their development rights to builders to use elsewhere. Such transactions lower the pools' property taxes and also generate income.

Several swim clubs approached the council last year for help, saying their pools faced mounting debt because of high property taxes, coupled with increased expenses. Many of the pools were built in the 1960s and need improvements.

The council also approved a zoning change that will allow "pick-your-own" produce, Christmas tree or flower businesses in rural conservation districts to operate without having direct access to major roads. The measure is designed to give farms a chance to earn additional money through agri-tourism.

An amendment requires directional signage so customers can find the access to the farm, and another prohibits pick-your-own farms in residential subdivisions.

The council tabled an amendment to zoning regulations for boutique hotels. The measure was introduced on behalf of David and Cynthia Lynn, owners of the Inn at Peralynna Manor in Columbia, who are seeking a special zoning for boutique hotels.

At a council hearing last month, several neighbors spoke out against the business, saying it does not fit into their residential community.

The council also tabled a measure that would have changed the setback provisions from adjoining properties for riding academies or stables.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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