The Harford County Council has been busy passing legislation! Check out the new scorecard HERE.
Friends of Harford- Why we asked the Candidates these questions:
Unless you’ve been personally affected by a County land use decision, you may be wondering why we asked these particular questions of local candidates. The following links provide reasons for the questions asked.
View the candidate responses HERE.
Have you registered and reviewed the candidates for the 2018 GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY?
Land use decisions are made locally. In anticipation of the upcoming election, Friends of Harford asked Harford County Candidates for County Executive and County Council questions about land use issues.
Link to responses HERE.
THE 2018 GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
- Registration Deadline: 9:00 PM on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018
- Early Voting: Thursday, June 14th – Thursday, June 21st from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Election Day: Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Are you registered but unable to make it to the polls? Request an absentee ballot
- Unsure of where to vote? Find your polling place
- Not sure of who will be on your ballot? Check the ballot style for your polling place and view the ballots for the 2018 Primary Election.
- Friends of Harford CANDIDATES RESPOND TO LAND USE QUESTIONS
In anticipation of the upcoming election, Friends of Harford asked Harford County Candidates for County Executive and County Council to please respond to the following questions so that we may understand their perspectives and reasoning on land use issues. The candidates’ responses can be found here.
Friends of Harford, Inc focuses on Harford’s land use issues, working for a fair balance between the rights of those wanting to develop a property and the rights of neighbors who might be impacted by that development.
Land use is controlled by the County Executive and County Council members. In anticipation of the upcoming election, Friends of Harford asks candidates to please respond to the posted questions so we may understand your perspectives and reasoning on these issues.
We will post your responses on our website and notify our members that they are available.
Responses are due back by April 15, 2018.
Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in keeping Harford County citizens aware and informed of your goals and objectives.
Friends of Harford News and Views
The Zoning Code tells us what we may do with our property. Build a house? 7 houses? A restaurant? A gas station? We read the code to find out what uses are automatically permitted, but there are exceptions to the rule. If the code shows a use as a special exception, it may be approved with certain extra conditions to protect the neighbors, or it may not be approved at all. That use must also be compatible with what is already allowed in the neighborhood.
A Special Exception is unique in that neighbors can object to the proposed site plan during a required, formal hearing. The public may be represented for free if the People’s Counsel agrees to represent the interests of the public.
The overriding rule for a Special Exception is if it causes too much harm to the neighbors, and changing the site plan won’t stop the harm, it should not be approved.
In all there are 10 requirements** for approval of a Special Exception. So for example, the code states one may build a sawmill in CI (Commercial Industrial) or GI (General Industrial) zoned properties, but one must ask for a Special Exception for a sawmill on an AG (Agricultural) zoned property.
A Hearing Examiner decides whether the request is approved or denied for that plan at that particular location. The decision may be appealed to the County Council which sits as the Board of Appeals.
1. Zoning Code, Article IX, Special Exceptions page 315
2. Friends of Harford Newsletter-Public Participation for Special Exception
** Special Exceptions consider the effects of the proposed site plan on: the number of people living or working in the area; traffic conditions; orderly growth of the neighborhood and any fiscal impact the County may have because of the approval; the effect of odors, gas, smoke, fumes, vibration, glare and noise on the surrounding properties; if there is adequate police, fire, water, sewer or garbage services; if the development is consistent with good planning; any harm to existing structures nearby such as churches, schools, etc.; environmental impact or opportunities for recreation or harm to sensitive land; the preservation of cultural and historic buildings or places.
Comprehensive rezoning is over for another 6 to 8 years. This round there were 115 requests by residents or their agents. Every Councilman introduced amendments to grant a more intense use for a property than the one received in the legislation as presented by County Administration.
It should be noted that a Land Use Study conducted by the County in 2011 and again in 2014 declared that there was more than adequate land available for every use, be it residential, business or commercial-industrial available well beyond the next CZR era. The study also showed there will be a need for more Residential zoning long before there is a need for more Business or Industrial zoned land.
Rezoning to a more intense District (up-zoning) often means additional facilities/services will be required from the County. The cost of funding these new roads and other required infrastructure will be borne by the taxpayers. Harford County elected officials are responsible for balancing the citizens’ quality of life and taxpayer funding for future infrastructure requirements caused by approved zoning changes.
In all, 836 acres received requests for rezoning. Approximately 250 acres were up-zoned from less intense to more intense categories of zoning, e.g., from agricultural to residential, from residential to business, or business to industrial. Approximately 80 acres were up-zoned in intensity, e.g., R1 rezoned to R3, B1 rezoned to B2, etc.
To sum up by District:
FOH is satisfied with the District A results. District A had 20 requests for more intense rezoning. Three up-zonings were supported by the County, two of which had the endorsement of the community. One additional up-zoning was by amendment from the Councilman. About 8 acres went from Residential to Business or Industrial zoning, while about 10 acres went from B2 to B3 zoning.
FOH is severely disappointed with District B rezoning. District B had 25 requests with 2 requests withdrawn. About 57 acres were granted more intense kinds of zoning, including 50 Agricultural acres converted to Business or medium-intensity Residential zoning. Plus, 14 acres increased intensity within the same zoning category (majority were from B2 to B3, the Highest Business Intensity).
FOH strongly opposed the high intensity up-zoning of about 45 acres at the outer edges of the Development Envelope (intersection of Mountain Road (Route 152) and Route 1), recently added and approved July 2016 by Harford County Council. Severe up-zoning was granted even though there are rural homes and a farm in Agricultural Preservation on the Development Envelope’s boundary in this area . The decision was in violation of HarfordNEXT, and contrary to the rationale applied in District F, where the County reduced an owner’s request for R2 zoning to only R1 at the Development Envelope boundary near rural homes. FOH is disappointed with the representation and lack of explanation from District B County Councilman and Administration regarding the approval of intense up-zoning to R2 and B3 in the Fallston Community area.
FOH was reasonably satisfied with the results of District C. District C had 17 requests. While we disapproved of the conversion of 3 R2-zoned properties to B2 or Commercial Industrial, these totaled less than 1.5 acres.
FOH is pleased with the results of District D. District D had 23 requests. We supported the community in their work to insure that the 3 properties at the intersection of Routes 23 and 24 were restricted to R1 zoning, and that the Madonna property remained AG.
FOH was also content with the results of District E. District E had 11 requests. We agree with the amendment to rezone the 6 requests next to Ripkin Stadium to B1, and the zoning has been coordinated with the city of Aberdeen.
FOH was very disappointed with District F results. District F had 20 requests. In spite of Harford expecting to need residential units long before the county runs out of either Business or Industrial-zoned land, District F sacrificed 122 acres of Residential land in favor of yet more Industrial land. There was a net loss of 100 acres of high-density (primarily R4, some R3) residential land converted to Industrial, partially offset by a loss of 21 acres of Agricultural land that was rezoned to R1 (lowest density). The only good news was the Treese Way development off Laurel Brook was not up-zoned and remains R1; it has many Natural Resource Districts.
In summary, Districts A, C, D and E were largely acceptable and we thank the Administration and Council members from those districts. We remain strongly opposed to the rezoning results of Districts B and F.
2017 Comprehensive Zoning Review Public Input
Two things determine what can happen on a property: the zoning of the property and the Zoning Code. The Zoning Code changes frequently, but the ongoing Comprehensive Zoning Review (CZR) is most citizens’ ONLY chance to influence zoning.
Here is the LIST OF PROPERTIES that have requested a change in zoning, what each will likely be given unless the public objects (column heading “Bill 17-015”) and what FOH recommends (FOH column). A summary of the properties we’re most concerned about is HERE.
We urge you to speak up for the zoning you feel is right. Either speak up at the County Council’s final public hearing on Monday October 2 (Aberdeen HS at 6:30pm) or Thursday October 5 (Bel Air HS at 6:30pm). You’ll have up to 3 minutes and need to arrive early to sign up to speak.
As always, we also urge you to email your opinion to the County Council.