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Zoning changes targeted for Sept.

The Baltimore Sun

Howard County Council members plan to take until September before moving to change county zoning laws based on recommendations of a citizens task force.

"I think it's going to take someone sitting down with us. I'd like to come back in September," said Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty, a west Columbia Democrat who with North Laurel-Savage Democrat Jen Terrasa created the Public Engagement and Land Use Task Force.

Terrasa pointed out that many of the 46 recommendations reached this month require use of county technology, which is being modernized.

"When I read these, 95 percent are under the jurisdiction of the county executive," said council Chairman Courtney Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat. "My tendency would be to let the sponsors give this to the county executive and see what he would do."

East Columbia Democrat Calvin Ball added that many of the recommendations might also impact the budget.

The task force recommended dozens of ways for the county to help residents be more easily informed and involved in land-use decisions, a major area of complaints in the 2006 election.

James Howard, co-chairman of the group, told the council that the task force took its time and worked hard to reach agreement on many issues.

"There's a general theme here of more information, sooner, better, faster," he said.

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