Among those decisions are Shipley's Grant in Ellicott City, where neighbors were concerned about the preservation of an historic property. According to an email from property owner Glenn Curtis, the Maryland Historical Trust recently accepted a request for an historic preservation easement on all of the property's buildings.

In Maple Lawn, members of a group called Voters For Common Sense Growth, who protested the lot's initial R-A-15 proposed zoning, said they did not support the petition movement.

In an email to the council, VCSG Administrator Chrisine Pereira wrote: "We at Voters for Common-Sense Growth would like you to understand that we are not affiliated with the FixHoCo group and do not support the … referendum. We feel that lending our support to FixHoCo in this process would undermine the relationships that we built with all of you during the comp zoning process."

And in Elkridge, members of the Rosa Bonheur Society recently met with the lot's developer, who purportedly offered to preserve the pet and human cemetery without moving any remains.

But Rosa Bonheur Society President Candy Warden said the meeting was just a start. "The meeting… was mainly a meet and greet event for expressing concerns regarding the future of the cemetery," she wrote in an email. "For the time being events are unfolding, so we will all have to wait and see what develops and what the outcome of the referendum petition will be."

Markovitz said she thought developers were finally coming forward because of the pressure and public attention the petition had created.

"If there's an agreement between the developer and the community that is enforceable and in writing, then I would make an opinion about that, and whether or not it benefits the community," she said.

District 5 Council member Greg Fox, a Republican, questioned whether the benefits of having zoning decisions overturned were worth the risks. "What [the petitioners are] doing is what would be nice their eyes, in the community members' eyes, and even mine -- but you have to ask yourself, are you willing to take the risk... that things end up being more than the compromise?" he asked. "And that goes for every one of the properties."

Final countdown

If petitioners don't collect enough signatures by the deadline, of course, questions about the referendum process and the fate of development decisions will be moot.

Markovitz said she had a feeling the group would reach its goal.

"I'll be surprised if we don't get, but it's hard for me to say," she said.

Even if the referendum doesn't get off the ground, she said, "I'm happy that at least council members realize how many thousands of people are out there who have felt unheard."