Appeal of Written Determination, proposed for the First Election District, 240, 241, 242, 243 and 245 Ogden Court, Abingdon, by ERICH BAIN and STEVEN GOLDEN.
Appealed because an appeal of a final written determination by the Director of Planning, pursuant to Section 267-7A(6) of the Harford County Code, in a letter dated December 30, 2019, where it was concluded that the five (5) existing single-family detached residences, operated by New Points, LLC, are “Residential: Conventional Development as Single Family Detached Dwellings”, and are permitted in the R3 Urban Residential District, requires approval by the Board of Appeals.
Village Business (VB) District
“This district is intended to provide business services to rural areas and to preserve and enhance the character and function of long-established rural settlements. This district compliments the VR district by providing a mix of business and residential uses at an appropriate scale. The Rural Village Study shall be used as a guide for achieving architectural compatibility.” § 267-58
There are nine Villages in the County: Churchville, Coopstown, Darlington, Dublin, Forest Hill, Jarrettsville, Norrisville, Upper Crossroads and Whiteford. These have been villages long before there was a Zoning Code.
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 LETTERContinue reading “Abingdon Business Park”→
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.
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.
** 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.