Highlights of County Council rezoning decisions


The Howard County Council completed the second phase of a two-year rezoning of the entire county with votes Monday night that changed land uses from the western edge of Ellicott City to Jessup along U.S. 1.

Here are some of the more significant changes:

A new traditional neighborhood center zone designed to encourage urban-style mixed residential and commercial uses at older shopping centers along U.S. 40 was applied to most of the Chatham Shopping Center, but not to the older Normandy center east of Rogers Avenue.

Councilman Christopher J. Merdon, a Republican who represents Ellicott City, wanted to see specific plans for any possible development at Normandy before changing the zoning there. Residents who live nearby complained that the 20 housing units per acre the zoning allows could be too much.

The vote was unanimous, though Councilman Ken Ulman, a west Columbia Democrat, said, "I am very, very much in favor of mixed use at Normandy."

Marsha McLaughlin, the county planning director, said later that if a developer creates a specific plan for Normandy, the council could reconsider the issue.

The council defeated an amendment that would have halved the 82 moderate-income senior housing units planned by the Columbia Housing Corp. for a 4.5-acre plot on Chatham Road in Ellicott City.

A wooded plot overlooking the intersection of westbound U.S. 40 and southbound U.S. 29 - but now accessible only by residential Upton Road - won commercial office zoning, though the several homes on Upton were left residentially zoned.

Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a western County Republican who was part of the 3-2 majority, said, "I hope someone in the future can put a plan together there."

The goal is that access can come through other nearby commercial development.

Requests for commercial or office zoning on homes along Frederick Road near U.S. 40 were denied, based on residents' complaints that this would hurt their neighborhood.

Several residents said after the voting that they were satisfied that the council protected residential interests in changing zoning on a number of small parcels along both sides of U.S. 40 from Bethany Lane west to Kiwanis Wallis Park in western Ellicott City.

The idea was to allow more commercial uses but still provide buffers for older residential communities.

Residential zoning was retained by unanimous vote on a small parcel at Freetown Road and Cedar Lane in Columbia where Mangione Family Enterprises once proposed a Walgreens pharmacy. More recent proposals were for a small mixed-use development.

Corridor activity center zoning was applied to the Aladdin Village mobile home park, a small shopping center just east of the park and the 70-acre undeveloped Bluestream tract north of the park along U.S. 1 - issues left over from last year's rezoning - all along the U.S. 1 corridor.

The zone allows more imaginative projects mixing residential, commercial and retail uses that county officials hope will spur redevelopment along the old commercial highway.

At Chairman Guy Guzzone's suggestion, the council postponed until next month voting on zoning language changes regulating the minimum number of senior housing units that could be allowed on small parcels.

The delay was to give the council time to consider a new senior housing master plan submitted at the Monday meeting before changing zoning rules.

Vacant land closest to homes on the south side of Route 100 at Route 103 was assigned a low-intensity office zone on a 3-2 Democrat-Republican party-line vote to help buffer the community from what might eventually become a commercial office park on 27 acres.

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