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Another zoning change for St. Matthew Church property included in Bel Air's pending comprehensive review

A plan to build 48 townhouses on a portion of the St. Matthew Church property in Bel Air, shown in the rear of the photograph, was rejected by the town Planning Commission Thursday night.
A plan to build 48 townhouses on a portion of the St. Matthew Church property in Bel Air, shown in the rear of the photograph, was rejected by the town Planning Commission Thursday night. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Patuxent Homestead)

The Town of Bel Air is moving ahead with a comprehensive zoning review and a town development regulations update this fall, including more changes to the zoning of the St. Matthew Lutheran Church property at Route 22 and Moore's Mill Road that the town annexed in 2010.

The town's planning commission will hold a public hearing on changes to the zoning code and to the text of the development regulations, as well as make its final review of zoning changes proposed for 51 properties, on Thursday, Oct. 6, at Town Hall at 39 N. Hickory Ave., beginning at 7 p.m.

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The commission is expected to make its recommendations on the rezonings following the hearing, town Planning Director Kevin Small said Monday. The commission has been discussing various aspects of the comprehensive process since July, he noted.

Complete information on the comprehensive process, including the 51 properties whose zoning is likely to be changed, can be accessed on the town's website at www.belairmd.org/429/Comprehensive-Planning.

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In late July, the planning department staff recommended 47 properties for rezoning under the comprehensive review process.

A 48th property was later added by staff, a town-owned parcel at 331 Baltimore Pike, which would be rezoned from residential to business. Small said it has been used for parking by Auto Parts Plus.

"Most of the properties in question are proposed for zoning change to better reflect their existing use," Small explained.

Among areas mentioned in a news release the town put out last month were King's Crossing, Moores Mill Crossing and Hearthstone, for which allowances for commercial use will be removed to "stabilize the zoning as residential."

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Also mentioned were areas along Rock Spring Road and Hickory Avenue, which the release said "will be modestly upgraded to be consistent with existing use."

Three additional property owners also applied to have their properties rezoned, and planning staff recommended that all three be approved, Small said:

• 215 Archer St. from residential (transition overlay) to general business. The 7,500-square-foot lot had a dilapidated house that couldn't be rehabilitated and was demolished, according to the staff report. The owner of the lot owns an adjacent business, Color Lab Academy of Hair beauty school, and the vacant lot could be used for future parking – requiring board of appeals approval – or for office development, staff wrote.

• 722 S. Main St. from residential to limited business. Originally two lots – one zoned business and the other residential – the property owner combined them in an effort to deal with an access issue regarding the residential portion, resulting in a "split zoned" parcel, staff wrote. The business portion fronts on Main Street and has a commercial building; changing the back portion zoning to business would "permit redevelopment of the site for commercial use with access limited to South Main Street."

• 1200 E. Churchville Road from residential to limited business, 12.3 acres owned by St. Matthew Lutheran Church. The church property was almost 52 acres when it was annexed. The town previously approved separate townhouse developments on parcels north and west of the church buildings, which are within the 12.3 acres the church wants rezoned, according to the staff report, which also notes the site is adjacent to commercially zoned properties outside the town limits.

"The church is rezoning this lot to accommodate potential uses in the future that could be commercial in nature," staff wrote. The property has access to Route 22 and Moore's Mill Road, "and there is ample parking on the site."

With the planning commission wrapping up its work on the comprehensive review, the town board will conduct its own review. According to the tentative schedule, the board will receive the full comprehensive package at its Oct. 17 meeting and hold a public hearing Nov. 7, Small said. Any of the pending zoning changes must be approved by the town board before they can take effect.

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