Harford County Government published the following links on its website for information on hearing dates, how to participate virtually and where to watch County Council meetings and Zoning hearings. See Below
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.
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.
Friends of Harford News and Views
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Thanks to all who attended the Friends of Harford Annual Meeting on April 28, 2019 at the McFaul Center. Annual Report and Presentations in links below.
Welcome 2019 Board of Directors
|C0-Vice Presidents||Alan Sweatman & Bill Onorato|
|Secretary||Lee Crush & Mary Ann Forgan|
Board Members 2019
Judy Blomquist, Morita Bruce, Veronica Cassilly, Patti Dallam, Glenn Dudderar, Janet Hardy, Sally LaBarre
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.
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.
The latest example of Harford County enacting legislation without full open and transparent public input was the County Council’s approval (6-1) of the HarfordNEXT Master Plan on June 21st 2016.
The public was allowed to comment on the plan on June 7th. However, 16 amendments were made on June 14th, 15 were presented by Councilman Mike Perrone, and 1 amendment was provided by the County Executive. Private letters, phone calls and emails were admissible for comment about the bill and the amendments provided, however no public speeches or comments about the bill or its amendments were allowed during the subsequent Council meetings on the 7th, 14th or 21st by the Council decree as provided by Council President Slutzky with approval by the 6 Councilmen.
On June 21st, County Council members and the County Executive presented a further 34 amendments. The public was not allowed to view any of the amendments, nor could they comment on them. Some of the amendments created major changes in the bill.
That evening, the Council voted on each amendment and then voted for passage of the bill. Again, that evening, no citizen was able to speak publicly about the bill, the amendments or the vote. The Council then adjourned for the summer allowing only 2 sessions until September.
Under the County Code, Chapter 4: Administration of Government, Section 4-19 Sessions of Council, A., it states that “such additional days as the Council may determine, are designated as legislative sessions days for the enactment of legislation”. It further states that no more than 45 sessions may occur during one year. To date, 21 sessions have occurred, leaving ample opportunity for special sessions to listen to citizen comments concerning amendments prior to voting on legislation.
We believe this right of public input needs to be expanded to allow comment on all amendments. The habit of springing a change at the last minute without warning and without comment is unwarranted.
The Comprehensive Rezoning legislation will be forthcoming. This can affect every single piece of property and could impact every Harford County citizen in some manner, be it good or bad. The County Council should require adequate time for public comment before, during and after introduction of legislation and its amendments. The Council needs to plan ahead and be ready for legislation, not wait until the eleventh hour.