The current Baltimore County Council is now 18 months into its term. With five freshmen, this Council has brought new ideas and energy to the table, particularly in the area of planning, zoning, and development.
Bill 2-11 created the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. Already, we are seeing a renewed interest in new trails and sidewalk projects. Our office is working to extend the Indian Rock Park trail in Perry Hall and create bike lanes in the Towson area.
Bill 3-11 requires a Community Input Meeting for a new development to be closer to an affected neighborhood. I introduced this bill because I remember when Perry Hall residents had to travel to the Rosedale library to learn about a project in their own backyard. The same thing happened in Carney, where residents were required to go to the Perry Hall library even when there were closer places to meet.
Resolution 29-11 directs the Planning Board to review whether zoning regulations can better stimulate Transit-Oriented Development.
Many of our bills have reformed the Planned Unit Development process. A PUD is a special project that is not contingent on traditional zoning. Planned Unit Developments can play an important role, particularly by encouraging mixed-use development, but they must be done selectively. Bill 36-11 requires a Community Input Meeting and agency reviews before the County Council even considers a PUD resolution.
Bill 64-11 qualifies NeighborSpace of Baltimore County as a community benefit under a Planned Unit Development. Bill 4-12 puts the PUD documents on-line.
I am most proud of Bill 7-12, which creates the first-ever open space zoning designation in Baltimore County, "Neighborhood Commons." We should have areas that are specifically preserved from development. Bill 7-12 gives a County Councilmember this important tool during the rezoning process.
Bill 15-12 gives the public additional notice for a proposed variance or special exception, and it requires these changes to be posted on-line.
Bill 21-12 bans panhandle building lots in Carney, Cub Hill, and Parkville, blocking this type of infill development in a hilly and densely-populated part of Baltimore County.
Bill 23-12 expands the type of projects that can qualify for a property tax credit if the homes meet certain environmental standards. This legislation is good for taxpayers, as well as for the environment.
I worked on many of these bills with Councilman Tom Quirk, who also has a strong interest in planning and development issues. But here's what is extraordinary: not only did the legislation secure support from both Democrats and Republicans, but not a single vote was cast against any of the bills I just mentioned. We will continue looking for ways to advance public participation in the development process.