Planning Board stands pat on sign law revision BALTIMORE COUNTY


The Baltimore County Planning Board failed last night to make any recommendations to the County Council on a controversial proposal to regulate temporary real estate directional signs.

During more than two hours of discussion, the board rejected by a tie vote a motion to recommend that current county law regulating the signs be left intact.

The board also rejected by another tie vote a motion to consider certain changes in the proposed legislation. The council had asked the board for recommendations before the council introduced any legislation regulating the signs.

The proposal now goes before a regular planning board committee for further study.

Fourteen of the 15 members of the planning board voted on the issue during last night's meeting. The 15th member had to leave. Both votes were 6-6 with two abstentions.

Existing county law and zoning regulations prohibit placing real estate signs, directing potential clients to retail and rental residential subdivisions, on county property or rights of way.

The signs are put up on weekends. But a 30-year-old policy allowed the practice to go on.

Members of the real estate industry had asked the county for legislation that would clarify the contradiction. They contended the signs are vital for industry sales and employment.

The proposed measure, drafted by the county Office of Zoning Administration, would limit the number of directional signs for a development to 36 within a three-mile radius.

It would also allow the signs to be displayed only between 4 p.m. Fridays and 11:59 p.m. Sundays, and require that homebuilders provide zoning officials with a map showing the exact location of their signs to help with enforcement.

But an opinion by the county Office of Law raised concerns that the proposed measure could be unconstitutional because it would allow one industry to put up the signs and deny that right to other advertisers.

Also, community organizations oppose the measure, contending that existing laws should be enforced.

Also last night, the board approved a recommendation from the county Department of Public Works to change the traffic classification of the intersection of Harford and East Joppa roads, freeing the area for future development.

The intersection had been designated a failing intersection for three years meaning it is too congested during peak traffic hours. Under county law, building permits are automatically held for any project within the traffic basin that feeds such an intersection.

Thomas H. Hamer, deputy public works director, said the decision to change the intersection classification came after studies showed reduced traffic volume mainly attributed to the new White Marsh Boulevard.

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