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Carroll County rezoning could affect over 600 acres. Here’s where the county stands on each proposal.

Twenty-nine properties spanning a total of 615 acres across Carroll County might be rezoned in the near future as the county commissioners consider the next step in the countywide comprehensive rezoning process.

The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday examined property owners' rezoning requests, plus recommendations made by planning staff and the county Planning and Zoning Commission. The meeting marked the first of four work sessions scheduled to be held before the commissioners take a vote.

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A “listening session” with the commissioners will be held Oct. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m., then the commissioners will have three work sessions, starting at 9 a.m., on Nov. 3, 10 and 24. A public hearing is planned for Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. These meetings will be held virtually, and those who wish to call in to comment are asked to sign up on the county website.

The Department of Planning has been working with several other county departments to update the county’s zoning since February 2015. Comprehensive rezoning involves updating and changing the zoning code and map to implement the 2014 Carroll County Master Plan and the 2018 Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan.

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“This is not a piecemeal rezoning,” said Lynda Eisenberg, county planning director. “We are establishing that this is consistent with the plan and that the plan is the overarching goal and objective of implementation that we are trying to achieve.”

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, acknowledged the frustration some residents have expressed in recent months with the county’s notification process. Rothstein is an ex-officio member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. The county has sent letters and emails to residents, posted on its website and social media, published notices in the newspaper and placed signs on properties, according to Eisenberg. However, some residents have said they weren’t notified or did not receive adequate notice.

“Early on, those letters went out and there was a bit of frustration that they were received only a few days prior to the initial meeting,” Rothstein said. “We understood that, we accepted that, but we kept moving forward and saying what else do you want to see in these letters? ... How else do you want to receive that information?”

He suggested there will always be someone saying they didn’t see the rezoning coming, but the commissioner insisted the county’s efforts to notify the public were deliberate and thoroughly resourced, though not perfect.

Peggy Faith is just one of multiple Westminster-area residents who have spoken out against proposals to encourage development by rezoning agriculture and conservation areas along Reese Road and Baltimore Boulevard, near her home. She said she received a letter from the county four days before a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on rezoning.

“I moved there because I felt like it was a pretty secluded spot,” Faith said in an interview Tuesday.

Faith was a career firefighter in her native Howard County for more than 26 years and blames flooding in Ellicott City on too much development.

“I hate the thought of that happening in Carroll County,” she said.

What could change?

The county received 29 applications from property owners seeking to have property rezoned to commercial, industrial or employment campus districts, Eisenberg said. How a property is zoned affects what development can occur in that area.

Two requests were for commercial low density (C-1) zoning, 15 were for commercial medium (C-2), one for commercial high (C-3), two for industrial light (I-1), five for industrial heavy (I-2) and four for employment campus (EC).

Between March and June, county planning staff analyzed the applications and drafted reports before presenting them to the Planning and Zoning Commission, Eisenberg said. The commission reviewed the requests in virtual public meetings between July and August, then issued its recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners, which has the final say.

Information about the proposed comprehensive rezoning and specific properties can be found online at carrollrezoning.org.

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Some recommendations were either favorable or unfavorable. Planning staff and the planning commission agreed on some properties, but issued opposing opinions on others.

The planning commission and county staff offered favorable recommendations for the following properties:

  • EC-14-2020-0001 at 115 Terrapin Drive, Eldersburg. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to employment campus.
  • I2-14-2020-0003 at 8050 Old Washington Road, Woodbine. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to industrial heavy.
  • C2-14-2020-0004 at 373 Liberty Road, Sykesville. The proposal is to rezone from R-20,0000 (about two residential dwellings per acre) to commercial medium.
  • C2-07-2020-0005 at 438 E. Main St., Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from R-10,000 (about four dwellings per acre) to commercial medium.
  • EC-04-2020-0009 at 1348 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agricultural to employment campus.
  • C2-04-2020-0010 and C2-04-2020-0011 at Md. 140 and Suffolk Road, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from R-40,000 to commercial medium.
  • C3-04-2020-0012 at 1640 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial high.
  • I2-04-2020-0013 at Reese Road in Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to industrial heavy.
  • C2-06-2020-0015 at 4033 Lineboro Road, Manchester. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial medium.
  • C3-07-2020-0017 at 844 Washington Road, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from R-10,000 to commercial high or medium. County staff and planning commission offered favorable recommendations for commercial medium.
  • C2-07-2020-0024 at the intersection of Md. 32 and Md. 97 in Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial medium.
  • EC-14-2020-0025, near Klees Mill Road in Sykesville, north of Century High School. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to employment campus.
  • C2-05-2020-0028 at 1701 Bennett Road, Sykesville. The proposal is to rezone from industrial light to commercial medium. The proposal was previously for about 40 acres and was revised to 30.
  • C2-05-2020-0031 at 1135 Liberty Road, Sykesville. The proposal is to rezone from R-10,000 to commercial medium.
  • C2-05-2020-0032 at 1107, 1123 and 1129 Liberty Road, Sykesville, next to No. 31. The proposal is to rezone from R-10,000 to commercial medium.

The planning commission and county staff offered differing recommendations for the following properties:

  • C2-14-2020-0006 at 7606 Woodbine Road, Woodbine. The proposal is to rezone from commercial low to commercial medium. Staff gave a favorable recommendation, while the planning commission was against the proposal. Eisenberg said the owner wished to expand the existing business to include auto service, which the planning commission thought might be “too intense” for the area considering the surrounding community and size of the property.
  • I1-04-2020-0008 at 2074 Reese Road, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture and conservation to industrial light. Staff gave a favorable recommendation, while the planning commission was against the proposal, as they felt the property was not ready to move forward, Eisenberg said. She noted the county received numerous comments from residents opposed to the rezoning regarding this property and the properties ending in 9, 12 and 13.
  • C2-09-2020-0014 at 1835 and 1839 Old West Liberty Road, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial medium. Staff issued an unfavorable recommendation in order to maintain consistency with the Master Plan’s land use designation, goals and objectives, Eisenberg said. The planning commission was in favor.
  • C2-04-2020-0019 on Old Westminster Pike in Finksburg. The proposal is to rezone from conservation to commercial medium. Staff issued an unfavorable recommendation, while the planning commission was in favor, as long as the boundaries were brought in to make the portion smaller, Eisenberg said. The property is heavily constrained by nearby streams, forest and wetland, according to Eisenberg.
  • C2-03-2020-0020 at 2820 Littlestown Pike, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial medium. Staff issued an unfavorable recommendation in order to maintain consistency with the Master Plan’s land use designation, goals and objectives, Eisenberg said. The planning commission was in favor.
  • EC-13-2020-0030 at 6503 Ridge Road, Mount Airy, also known as the Colburn/Hulver/Bay property. The proposal is to rezone from conservation to employment campus. County staff were in favor, while the planning commission issued an unfavorable recommendation. Eisenberg described this property as “particularly controversial” because it is swept up into the future annexation of another property to the south. Some community members oppose the potential annexation, Eisenberg said, and the county received comments from the Mount Airy mayor and planning commission voicing their opposition to rezoning the land before the annexation.

The planning commission and county staff both offered unfavorable recommendations for the following properties:

  • I2-04-2020-0029 at 1545 B Old Westminster Pike, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to industrial heavy.
  • C1-03-2020-0027 at 401 Stone Road, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial low.
  • C2-07-2020-0022 at 75 Lamb Drive, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial medium.
  • I2-11-2020-0023 by Medford Road between New Windsor Road and Old New Windsor Pike, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to industrial heavy.
  • I2-09-2020-0018 at 3030 Salem Bottom Road, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture and conservation to industrial heavy.
  • I1-05-2020-0016 at 580 Obrecht Road, Sykesville. The proposal is to rezone from conservation to industrial light.
  • C1-04-2020-0007 at 1550 Old Westminster Pike, Westminster. The proposal is to rezone from agriculture to commercial low.

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