Council Comment: Marks discusses proposal to establish open space zoning

On Monday, Feb. 6, County Councilman Tom Quirk and I will introduce legislation to create the first open space zoning designation in Baltimore County.

Every property in Baltimore County has a development potential determined by its zoning classification. Even schools, libraries and parks have a zoning designation.


Councilman Quirk and I believe there should be a zoning designation to preserve open space, particularly within the urbanized part of Baltimore County.

Our legislation creates a "Neighborhood Commons Overlay District" that would permit only open space or minor recreational structures within the property.


The overlay district could only be implemented during the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, and would apply to a homeowners association common area or to a property held by a nonprofit entity, such as Baltimore County NeighborSpace.

This legislation adds another layer of protection for areas that should be protected from development. Homeowners associations often become defunct, and this would prohibit development in areas that should be reserved for open space.

As an example, a large common area that could only be dropped as low as DR1 under current law (one house per acre) could be designated NC-DR1 with the new "Neighborhood Commons" designation, blocking even one house per acre.

The Comprehensive Zoning Map Process is now under way. I have proposed lowering the development potential of about 480 acres in the 5th District, which includes Towson and Perry Hall.

The legislation that Councilman Quirk and I have proposed should provide even more certainty to communities as they protect open space.

The author is the 5th District representative on the Baltimore County Council. He may be reached at the council office, at 410-887-3384, or via email at