Balto. Co. bill would ban some new 'panhandle lots'

Developers in some parts of northeastern Baltimore County would no longer be able to squeeze new properties onto existing lots without a new road, under a bill introduced by three County Council members Monday.

The bill, set for a vote next month, would ban new "panhandle lots" in Parkville, Cub Hill and Carney, a move meant to control density. It was introduced by David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican; Cathy Bevins, a Middle River Democrat; and Todd Huff, a Lutherville Republican.


Panhandle lots feature long driveways and let developers fit new construction onto existing lots that would ordinarily have only one property, Marks said.

"They're often unpopular for people in existing communities," Marks said, because they increase density.

Banning such lots was a recommendation of the Carney-Cub Hill-Parkville Area Community Plan, a nonbinding set of proposals developed by community and business leaders and adopted by the County Council in 2010.

The lots are barred in the South Perry Hall growth area, Marks said. They are allowed in Perry Hall's Honeygo district and in Middle River only under certain circumstances, he said.

Also Monday, Marks introduced a bill to allow mountain biking around Loch Raven Reservoir. The reservoir is owned by Baltimore City but is located in Baltimore County, and recreational use has been a source of dispute between the two. Cyclists have faced fines from the city for riding there. A vote is set for May.

In addition, council members also voted unanimously to give the public five extra days' notice for zoning hearings and to require such notices to be posted on the county website.

The bill — sponsored by Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat, as well as Marks, Huff and Catonsville Democrat Tom Quirk — would require legal ads and other notices to be published 20 days before hearings for petitions on zoning variances and special exceptions, rather than the current 15 days.

In other council action, members also unanimously approved a bill by Huff that is meant to prevent casinos from being built at the state fairgrounds in Timonium. The bill would create a special zoning classification for part of the land and prohibit it from being used for slot machines or video lottery terminals. It would still allow Maryland State Fair officials to build on the land when they need to, Huff said.