FOH Scorecard June, 2020 UPDATE

View the lastest Harford County Council legislative “scorecard” provided by Friends of Harford. Stay tuned for updates on land use legislation and track how your County Council representative voted! 

Highlights

County Executive VETOES Bill 20-005 and Council Overturns Veto with Shrodes Dissenting

Bill 20-005 Claims settlement information

Sponsors: Councilman Robert Wagner and Andre Johnson

Requires the Administration to notify the County Council of any legal claims/lawsuit settlements over $100,000 from any fund to be reviewed and approved.

Currently only those claims paid out by the Self- Insurance fund needs review and approval by the Council.

[Amended on 4/21/20 to require Administration to deliver written report to the County Council every 6 months and include all information pertinent to claims or lawsuits. Amendment withdrawn 5/5/20.]

The Council may not disclose information until there is public notice. This remains unchanged from original bill 94-032.  More Information

Friends of Harford Legislative Scorecard 

 

Legislative Scorecard UPDATE February, 2020

View the lastest Harford County Council legislative “scorecard” provided by Friends of Harford. Stay tuned for updates on land use legislation and track how your County Council representative voted! 

NEW Proposed Legislation:

  • Bill 20-001 Commercial Amusement and Recreation
  • Sponsor: Council President Vincenti for County Executive Glassman
  • Summary: Amends the Zoning Code adding COMMERCIAL AMUSEMENT AND RECREATION as a Permitted Use in the R4 Zoning District, subject to specified requirements regarding yard buffers, hours of operation, and allowable lighting sources. Plus, amendment introduced will increase hours of operation to 8 AM to 10 PM daily.

Read Bill Here

This bill is needed to support Resolution 001-20; a $1 sale of 25 acres Washington Court Surplus Property to Coppermine Fieldhouse, LLC; requiring the owning company to use land as an athletic field
facility for 20 years.  This is not currently allowed in the R4 Zones. Read Resolution HERE.

Friends of Harford Opinion: Legislation should not be enacted County-wide for one company, owner or project. Rather, a use not permitted in a zoning district may be granted via a Special Exception as are Country and Swim Clubs, and Assembly Halls for example in R4.   

Public Hearings: 2/4/20 6:15 pm 

Friends of Harford will update the scorecard after the vote. 

Harford County Legislative SCORECARD

Legislative Scorecard UPDATE December, 2019

View the lastest Harford County Council legislative “scorecard” provided by Friends of Harford. Stay tuned for updates on land use legislation and track how your County Council representative voted! 

 

Harford County land use legislation “scorecard”
provided by Friends of Harford

Gunpowder Riverkeeper Input to MDE Wetlands & Waterways Permit Re: Abingdon Business Park

Gunpowder Riverkeeper letter to Maryland Department of the Environment

Re: Abingdon Business Park 

Public Input Letter to MDE Re: Abingdon Business Park Wetlands and Waterways permit

Gunpowder Riverkeeper is opposed to the Wetlands and Waterways Permit 19-NT-0228 because of the complexity of the project, the location in a heavily forested wetland, and the stated wetlands mitigation plan that would pay into the non tidal wetlands mitigation fund rather than mitigate impacts within the same watershed. Read more here. 

 

 

 

 

Abingdon Business Park

Abingdon Business Park – Forest Stand Delineation and Forest Conservation Plan
 
In response to plans to create an industrial park on a 326-acre parcel near the Route 24 and Interstate-95 interchange, land use advocacy groups from Harford County and beyond signed a letter addressed to Mr. Brad Killian, Director of Planning and Zoning for Harford County.

The proposed Abingdon Business Park is located within Abingdon Woods bounded by I-95, Route 24, Route 7 and Abingdon Road. The legal and practical concerns include extensive deforestation (planned clear cut of 220 acres of forest) and potential for negative impacts to water quality are detailed in the full letter printed below. 

The letter begins…

“The undersigned citizens and organizations are writing in opposition to the proposed Abingdon Business Park, located at the southeast corner of I-95 and Route 24. The undersigned have serious legal and practical concerns about the extensive deforestation proposed under the current plan and the associated negative impacts to water quality. This project proposes substantial deforestation that appears to violate local and state laws regarding forest conservation and is contrary to County policy as stated in the County’s Green Infrastructure Plan.”  READ LETTER Continue reading “Abingdon Business Park”

Auston Pyrolysis Decision

The Harford County Circuit Court upheld the decision in Case 5886 to deny the tire pyrolysis operation by Auston Transfer and Processing on 6 acres in Joppa off Route 7. 

The property, Auston Transfer, used for shredding and recycling scrap tires requested a new system to incinerate tires within a closed chamber.  The property is zoned CI- Commercial Industrial.  Planning & Zoning approved the use in this zoning category. 

Within the time frame allowed, two Joppa citizens appealed the determination made by the Director and asked that the matter be reviewed by the County’s Hearing Examiner.  They were assisted by the People’s Counsel.  That decision was appealed because it considered the determination of the Planning and Zoning Director to allow this use in CI, was improper and that the pyrolysis system belonged in GI-General Industrial zoning.

As of this decision, the Hearing Examiner, County Council and now the Circuit Court all agree that the Director of Planning & Zoning overreached his authority and made a “legal error” in deciding to allow this use in CI. 

In addition, the Circuit Court added that material and information which is not in the Zoning Code itself, should be made available to the public.  In this case it was the Industrial Codes used by the Department of Planning & Zoning. 

Why is this relevant?

Friends of Harford is sharing news of this decision because it is an example of how the system is supposed to work. The community had concerns about the potential for negative effects to the environment and of the proximity of the tire burning near their homes. At each level, the facts were brought to light and the decision was made not to allow this type of facility in a Commercial Industrial Zoning. Had the tire pyrolysis plant been allowed in CI, it would have set precedent for future types of facilities in CI zoning.

 

Zoning Changes Update & New Scorecard

Friends of Harford News and Views
June, 2019

Bill 19-016 – Zoning Code Changes- Public Hearing Input- June 4, 2019

Recently, Friends of Harford President, Stephanie Flasch provided public input on Bill 19-016 (Zoning Code Changes) See full text of comments here. 

See full text of Bill 19-016 HERE. 

There is still time for citizens to send their comments to the County Council.
Call or email the County Council at (410) 638-3343 or council@harfordcountymd.gov 

Friends of Harford tracks the voting records for land use legislation via the SCORECARD. The Friends of Harford scorecard will be updated with amendments and voting record for land use legislation. 

Scorecard

Public Input on Proposed Abingdon Bus. Park from Gunpowder Riverkeeper

Grateful for strong community partners like Gunpowder Riverkeeper for shining a light on the development process and the potential negative impacts to the environment.

Letter provided to the March 6, 2019 Harford County Development Advisory Committee for the proposed Abingdon Business Park. 

To View Full Document CLICK HERE

 

Special Exceptions in the Zoning Code

Friends of Harford News and Views
February, 2018

Special Exceptions
 
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.

2017 Comprehensive Zoning Review WRAP-UP

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.

Comprehensive Zoning Review Bill 17-015 with Amendments CHART

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.

Final Bill 17-015 Chart with Amendments & FOH Evaluation