The county Zoning Board approved the most bitterly opposed component of the county's comprehensive rezoning plan late last night.
Sitting as the board, all five County Council members voted to change 820 acres zoned for three-acre homesites in Fulton to mixed-use. A new zoning type, mixed-use would allow a strictly regulated combination of houses, apartments, shops and businesses.
The board adopted three other mixed-use sites, but put off until September deliberations on the largest site -- 1,085 acres straddling Interstate 95 in North Laurel -- and a 42-acre site southeast of the intersection of Route 216 and U.S. 29.
Last night's work session decisions will not be final until the board signs the package of zoning changes. Deliberations are recessed until September, and could take another month to complete.
Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a Republican whose west county district includes the 820-acre Fulton site, said he voted for mixed-use there despite his preference for a lower-density mixed-use.
Mr. Feaga had favored adopting four mixed-use types, ranging from a maximum of two to six residential units per acre.
The board voted instead to adopt two types, with limits of three and six units per acre. The three-unit mixed-use was assigned to Fulton. Acres developed commercially would be included in calculating the number of residential units.
County administration planners' comprehensive rezoning petition would have allowed up to eight units per acre in one mixed-use category, but the proposal prompted a storm of protest, mostly from Fulton-area residents. They told the board they feared intense development would bring traffic gridlock, overcrowded schools and crime to the area.
The mixed-use concept, which was a key feature the county's 1990 General Plan, was backed almost exclusively by county planners, land owners and members of the business community. They argued that it would increase the commercial tax base in a controlled and predictable manner.
Responding to Fulton residents opposition to mixed-use, Mr. Feaga in December urged the County Council to strike the Fulton site from the 1990 General Plan. He tabled the proposal in February after residents did not support his compromise of half-acre zoning.
Last night the board also voted, 4-1, to rezone a 184-acre site at Old Montgomery Road and Route 108 to the three-units-per-acre mixed-use area. The site consists of a farm owned by R. Lee Curtis and the University of Maryland Horse Research Center in southern Ellicott City.
The board also voted 4-1 to create a six-units-per-acre mixed-use site on the south side of U.S. 40 at Ridge Road in Ellicott City.
The fourth mixed-use area, unanimously approved, is the 569-acre Chase property between I-95 and U.S. 1 north of Guilford Road in Jessup. Washington businessman Kingdon Gould Jr. has proposed a quarry and a golf course for the site.