Residents oppose zoning changes that would boost density in North County

North County was well represented at the June 26 public hearing on rezoning requests filed in the county's Third District — and by and large spoke out against increases in zoning density that are being proposed by several property owners.

Eighty-three spoke at the meeting, held at Loch Raven High School and attended by Third District County Councilman Todd Huff and other council members.

In all, some 296 zoning requests — or "issues" — have been filed in Baltimore County during the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, a review undertaken ever four years to consider zoning changes county wide.

Tuesday's meeting, which lasted almost three hours, was the last hearing on Third District issues before the County Council votes on 71 issues filed in that district. The council is scheduled to decide each issue before Sept. 16.

For North County requests, speaker after speaker asked that requests for upzoning that would allow for more dense development be denied.

Sisters Mary Jane and Karen Goshaney said they have 1,100 signatures on a petition against Obrecht Properties' request to change zoning on 19 acres on York Road in Sparks. Obrecht is requesting a change that would allow 80 town houses on land zoned for office buildings.

The owners of three parcels totaling 400 acres in Sparks are also asking for increases in zoning density. Many speakers lumped those three together when stating objections.

Sparks resident Valerie Williams got the council members' attention when she held up two stuffed animals — a trout and a bald eagle — in explaining how housing developments would endanger both.

A request by the new owners of the Manor Tavern in Monkton to have its 5-acre property changed to a "business major" category — allowing a more intense business use — also drew plenty of opposition.

"If there is any way to destroy the trust of the people, planning five acres of business major would do it," said James Constable, president of the Manor Conservancy.

As many people spoke, audience members who agreed with them stood up to show support.

Many members of the Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council urged the council members to be proactive in fighting development by agreeing to three downzoning requests they filed. The nonprofit asked for changes on 1,000 acres in Monkton, Parkton and White Hall.

Huff said he has already met with both sides in 90 percent of the issues in the Third District and plans to talk with the remainder before he votes.

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