Council creates youth task force

The Baltimore Sun

At a brisk, brief meeting Monday night, the Howard County Council unanimously approved creation of a youth task force to study creation of a county youth commission, and also approved a bill limiting requests for zoning regulation changes to two months of the year -- February and August.

Another bill creating a Design Advisory Panel for development was tabled for more discussion.

"We all had additional work that needs to be done on this bill," said Chairman Courtney Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat.

The bill squeezing requests for changes in zoning regulations into two months of the year was amended twice, first to push back the two months in which the requests would be allowed from March to February and from September to August, when the council is normally taking a summer break. Another amendment, approved 4-1, would sunset the new law on Jan. 31, 2011. That means that without further action, it would go out of existence.

The change would force the council to revisit the issue after enough time had passed to see if it is effective, said Councilman Greg Fox, a Fulton Republican. Watson was the lone opposing vote for that amendment. Critics have said the requests for zoning regulation amendments are increasingly being used by landowners and their attorneys as an easier way to get a zoning change for one property, though each change affects every parcel in an entire zoning category.

The idea behind the bill is to give the council a comprehensive look at these proposed changes twice a year at periods of lowered activity, to allow members time to study them. After being amended, it also passed unanimously.

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