Howard Council ready for final comprehensive zoning vote

The Howard County Council is on track to take a vote on the comprehensive zoning bill at a legislative session Thursday afternoon.

"We're in the home stretch," council chair Jen Terrasa said at the group's final work session Wednesday.

The bill, introduced June 3, had been tabled at the beginning of July to allow the council extra time to study proposed changes as well as more than 150 amendments.

The comprehensive zoning process, which occurs once every 8 to 10 years, is an opportunity for county property owners to request a rezoning of their land for any reason. It follows an update to the county's master plan, PlanHoward 2030, which sets long-term economic, environmental and quality-of-life goals.

The last time the county went through comprehensive zoning was in 2004.

Hot-button issues in the bill include decisions on zoning for Maple Lawn South, townhomes near Savage Mill, Rosa Bonheur pet cemetery in Elkridge, a funeral home in Clarksville and the rural west.

To date, the council has spent more than 80 hours in work sessions, public hearings and legislative sessions examining proposals in the bill and hearing from Howard County citizens. In addition, council members have invested time outside of their official obligations by reading through proposals and written testimony, visiting sites and talking with members of the community.

But some community members, including members of citizen groups such as the Howard County Citizens Association and Citizens Working to Fix Howard County, wanted the County Council to give the bill more time. More than 50 people came to rally in front of the George Howard county government building before a public hearing on July 16.

At the legislative session, the council will go through each amendment, voting it up or down, before voting to approve the final bill as amended.

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