Planning Board urges lawmakers to adopt 'environmental' zoning Zoning Board, residents oppose it


The county Planning Board endorsed a controversial "environmental" zoning category yesterday, urging county lawmakers to reconsider their opposition to the proposal.

The advisory opinion was included with recommendations on 29 other last-minute rezoning requests that will be decided June 10 by County Council members sitting as the Zoning Board.

The environmental category was rejected by the Zoning Board in straw vote taken during a March 17 work session.

The proposal would allow three homes per acre, clustered away from sensitive areas such as steep slopes, wetlands and historical sites.

Developer John Liparini requested the new classification for a 22-acre site near Guilford Road and U.S. 1. But community groups in Elkridge and Savage opposed it, saying the zoning would have the opposite effect and allow denser development in sensitive areas.

County planners recommended keeping the current quarter-acre residential lot zoning, but Planning Board members agreed with Mr. Liparini's request.

"We asked that the Zoning Board take another look at R-ED-3," said William Manning, who was elected this month as the Planning Board's new chairman. "We strongly advised that there are some places that [category] is appropriate," he said.

The board also differed with the county Planning and Zoning Department's recommendations for a project at the old Elkridge Drive-In.

Barry Mehta, and his wife, Charu Mehta, owners of the 17-acre parcel on U.S. 1, have said they want to develop apartments for the elderly, two nursing homes, retail and medical offices and a community center containing a banquet hall, pool and gymnasium.

To help finance the project, however, they say they must build a Taco Bell restaurant.

Elkridge community leaders and residents have been supportive of the elderly care proposal, but some have expressed reservations about building another fast-food outlet on U.S. 1.

County planners recommended that the county allow the couple to develop only town houses on the site.

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