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Some 1,350 properties in Carroll County rezoned in 2019, planning department tells commissioners during briefing

The Carroll County Department of Planning gave an overview of development activity that occurred in the county last year during the most recent Board of Commissioners meeting, discussing an upward trend in use and occupancy permits for residential activity, among other takeaways.

Each year, the Maryland Department of Planning requires planning departments across the state to file a report on the development that had occurred in their counties the previous year. Typically, Carroll County’s planning department provides a briefing about this report to the commissioners in July, but this year, Maryland’s planning department granted counties an extension for filing their reports due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the county’s planning department submitted its report to the state earlier this month.

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During the Thursday, Oct. 29 meeting, Cody Spaid — the county’s comprehensive planner — told commissioners that about 1,350 properties had been rezoned during the previous year as a part of Carroll’s larger mission to convert all commercial and industrial properties from existing businesses and industrial districts to five new zoning categories. Zoning is important because it affects what development can occur in an area.

In all, about 300 properties were rezoned as commercial low density properties, about 600 were rezoned as commercial medium density properties and 61 were rezoned as commercial high density properties. Roughly 270 properties were rezoned as industrial light density and 113 properties were rezoned as industrial heavy density.

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Earlier this month, the commissioners held the first of four scheduled work sessions to consider new rezoning requests from property owners. Up to 29 properties spanning 615 acres in the county may be rezoned in the near future, though some Westminster residents have spoken out against the county’s proposed zoning changes.

After a decline over multiple years, Carroll County also saw a jump in the number of use and occupancy permits issued for residential activity, Spaid told the commissioners. Last year, the county issued 358 of such permits, compared to 293 in 2018. The county also saw an uptick in the number of commercial permits issued, up from 18 in 2018 to 37 last year.

By the end of the year, the county had also approved 23 total residential site plans, spanning nearly 200 acres, and 26 commercial and industrial site plans, spanning almost 310 acres, according to the 2019 planning report.

Spaid also briefed the commissioners on the number of existing residential units in the county — almost 65,000 — and told them the county has over 25,000 residential lots that would be suited for development. Meanwhile, the county has close to 5,000 acres of commercial and industrial property, and over 3,000 acres of land suited for such development.

Last year, Spaid told the commissioners, the county also acquired about 1,500 acres of agricultural land. It has preserved 74% of the 100,000 acres of land is set out to preserve for agricultural use in 1979, Spaid said. The county also committed $6.5 million to agricultural preservation in fiscal year 2019, he added.

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