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Planning board to hold public hearing Tuesday on zoning change requests at Lansdowne High

Baltimore County residents will have a chance to offer comments to the Planning Board during a public hearing on Tuesday, March 3, for 35 zoning change requests in the county’s 1st District.

The hearing at Lansdowne High School is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., with sign-in starting at 5 p.m. Those participating will have two minutes to speak.

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Proposals to reduce housing density on land currently owned by Rolling Road Golf Club, protect open space around the former Catonsville Elementary School, and to preclude commercial development on more than 64 acres on Johnnycake Road are among requests filed by residents, community associations and southwestern County Councilman Tom Quirk.

The requests are part of a yearlong Comprehensive Zoning Map Process that occurs every four years, allowing members of the public to ask for zoning changes. Although county planners submit recommendations on the requests, the County Council ultimately votes to approve or deny them.

The Greater Patapsco Community Association has requested a zoning change on a large swath of vacant land at 7726 Johnnycake Road in Windsor Mill, where a proposed development to build 280 apartments and 38 town homes has been stalled since 2014, according to online county planning documents.

Another concept site plan has been approved on an adjacent parcel to the west proposed by Security Boulevard Ventures II LLC for 358 town homes, according to the planning documents.

That development — which members of the Greater Patapsco Community Association opposed when it went through the approvals process in 2015 — is “almost a done deal,” but removing the “business major” regulation would prevent further development in an area already congested with traffic, said Cleve Bordley, president and vice president of the Stonegate at Patapsco Homeowners Association.

With no recourse against the development, “It’s a matter of downzoning [the area] as much as possible,” Bordley said.

More than 14 acres of that land owned by Security Boulevard Ventures are currently zoned as “business major” and “industrial major,” which allows for large-scale industrial development. Thirty-six acres are zoned for “office and technology” use, which permits “employment-intensive office development in combination with certain high technology and residential development,” according to Baltimore County zoning regulations.

The Greater Patapsco Community Association is leading a charge of nearby community associations to downzone the entire parcel to allow for no more than 3.5 homes per acre, and to add a “Rural Conservation 6” designation, permitting only agricultural and residential use there.

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County planners have recommended the council not adopt the change.

“While the request for zoning change is consistent with the Baltimore County Master Plan 2020, this change does not align with current Baltimore County goals regarding land use, growth management, resource protection, and/or economic development,” planning staff wrote in their recommendations.

Scullney said county planners told her the zoning change could prevent an extension of Security Boulevard, but “they [were] unable to be more specific,” she said. “As far as anybody knows, there is no specific extension at Security Boulevard planned.”

Quirk concurred he was not aware of any plan to extend Security Boulevard.

The Greater Patapsco Community Association asserts the current zoning on the land north of Johnnycake Road is an “aberration” inconsistent with zoning in the surrounding area, or with the county’s goal of resource conservation as laid out in the Patapsco/Granite Area Community Plan adopted in 1996 and the Patapsco Park and Open Space Concept Plan approved in 1992, said Kathleen Scullney, chair of the association’s zoning committee.

Plans to develop the land for commercial use have been floated since zoning on the land was changed from mostly rural conservation to business major in 2008, but to no avail; A new Social Security National Support Center, which would have required numerous road improvements to mitigate traffic build-up was being considered before the support center was built in Frederick instead, and the Red Line, a transit plan that would have stretched 14 miles from from Woodlawn to Bayview, was also under consideration there before it was killed in 2015, Scullney said.

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The zoning “is so profoundly contradictory to everything that’s already there,” Scullney said about the residential area.

“We’re not saying don’t develop the property, what we’re saying is bring it down to a level of residential development that’s in the adjoining communities.”

Councilman Quirk also has submitted a request for the planning department to study the “office and technology” zoning designation on 36 acres within the community association’s zoning change request, north of Johnnycake Road and south of Dogwood Road; planning staff recommended leaving the zoning as is.

Scullney said community members plan to speak about the request Tuesday night.

Public hearings before County Council members will start in June, with 1st District issues up for discussion on Thursday, June 11 at Catonsville High School.

A full timeline of the zoning process can be found online at https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/planning/czmp/timeline.html.

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