Taking immediate action can make rezoning easier and less expensive


Dear Mr. Gisriel: I own some property in Baltimore County. Someone told me that if I want to have my property rezoned, I need to take action soon. What do I need to do and how soon do I need to act?

Mel Taylor

White Marsh

Dear Mr. Taylor: The next comprehensive rezoning process for Baltimore County began Aug. 1. All landowners in Baltimore County -- whether needing a zoning change for proposed new development or simply seeking to assure that their property is not downzoned -- should closely monitor and, if necessary, become involved in the rezoning process as soon as possible to protect the value of their property.

During an open filing period from Aug. 1 to Oct. 1, 1995, any person, association or corporation or Baltimore County itself could file a petition for zoning reclassification of any property in the county. Certain information had to be filed with the petition, all of which becomes a matter of public record. Each request for a zoning reclassification is known as an "issue" and is identified by an "issue number."

During November, additional issues can be raised only by members of the Baltimore County Planning Board. From Dec. 1 to Jan. 15, 1996, only members of the County Council may raise new Issues.

All the Issues during these filing periods are analyzed by County Office of Planning and Zoning staff during the first three months of 1996. Information on each issue, along with preliminary staff recommendations, will be published in a multivolume "Log of Issues." The Log and the accompanying maps comprise a report by the planning staff to the Baltimore County Planning Board for the purpose of public hearings in April.

The County Planning Board will schedule a public hearing in each Councilmanic District during 1996. At a series of subsequent work sessions open to the public, the Planning Board will review the various issues. A recommendation on each issue will be formally adopted by the Planning Board before June 30, 1996.

The County Council is the sole authority to determine the final zoning and it need not accept the Planning Board's recommendation. The Council may retain the classification or may adopt any new classification that has been considered during the process. The Council will schedule a public hearing in each Councilmanic District during September 1996. Testimony is limited to those issues within the district.

The County Council must vote on each issue before Oct. 16, 1996. As adopted by the County Council, the revised Comprehensive Zoning Map takes effect 45 days after being signed into law by the county executive.

According to David Thaler, a Baltimore County zoning and subdivision expert and land surveyor, the Office of Planning and Zoning staff is expected to raise zoning issues seeking to downzone numerous properties. With that in mind, all landowners in Baltimore County should monitor the process.

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