The Baltimore County Council voted to allow and made history Monday night by revoking approval for a Planned Unit Development—a first in the county.
The council voted 6-1 on a heavily amended bill that will allow deer hunting in county parks on a limited basis.
Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican and one of the bill sponsors, said the amendments were an attempt to satisfy proponents and opponents of deer hunting.
"Our job is to find middle ground on contentious issues and I think we've done that," Marks said.
The amendments open up county parks to hunting using specially licensed sharpshooters called deer cooperators under the management of the state Department of Natural Resources.
Under the amended bill, the sharpshooters will be able to hunt only late at night. The public must be given at least two weeks' notice of such a hunt.
Councilman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat, said the amendment was intended to reduce the possibility that hikers or others "would be wandering in the park" during a hunt.
The amendments also require that the cooperators use county-based butchers if possible and that all the meat is donated to a food bank.
The amendments also require the county to continue to explore other options for controlling deer population, including sterilization and birth control, and make it clear that the parks will not be opened to hunting by the general public.
Parks ultimately will be selected by the county in consultation with the state. County officials said Oregon Ridge and Cromwell Valley Park, which borders the Loch Raven Reservoir, are two likely candidates.
The state, in conjunction with the city and county, already allows managed bow hunting during deer season in the Loch Raven, Liberty and Prettyboy Reservoir watersheds.
The county has also used sharpshooters in portions of the Loch Raven Watershed that are near residential areas and closed to bow hunting.
Not all of the council members were satisfied with the bill's final version.
Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat, voted against the amendments and the bill.
"My constituents wanted me to," Almond said after the meeting, adding that she received a number of calls and emails urging her to oppose the bill.
Catonsville Development Nixed
The council made history when it voted 7-0 to revoke approval for a controversial Planned Unit Development slated for Catonsville.
Councilman Tom Quirk said he decided to revoke the approval for the that included 10 townhouses on less than three acres of land.
Quirk did not explain the reason for a last-minute resolution prior to the vote. After the meeting he told reporters his decision was based on environmental and land-use concerns.
"I looked at reports from the Department of Planning and the Department of Environmental Protection [and Sustainability] and I saw a lot of concerns," Quirk told reporters after the vote.
He declined to talk about his specific concerns. He referred reporters back to the departmental reports on the project.
Quirk called the parcel, off Thistle Road behind Dimitri's on Frederick Road, "a tough piece of land."
"If anyone bought those homes, they'd literally be walking out their front door into a parking lot," Quirk said.
More than 90 people attended a recent community-input meeting on the project.
Quirk said environmental concerns, not community ire over the project, drove his decision to revoke approval for the project favored by his predecessor, Councilman Sam Moxley.
The land-use and environmental reports Quirk used to base his decision were completed as part of a process that begins after the council grants initial approval.
Under county law, the development plans provide more flexible zoning regulations for mixed-use projects than what would normally be allowed in return for specific community benefits.
Despite revoking approval for this development, Quirk said he still supported the Planned Unit Development process.
Quirk said he'll continue to consider such proposals "on a case-by-case basis."
"There are a lot of great PUDs out there," Quirk said. "PUDs are a great tool."
This is the first time in the history of the Planned Unit Development that an approval by the council has been revoked.
The council came close to revoking a large Planned Unit Development proposed for the Philadelphia Road corridor near White Marsh Mall. Then-Councilman Vince Gardina introduced a resolution to revoke approval for the project but withdrew the action on the night of the vote.
In other council news:
- Andrea Van Arsdale was unanimously approved as county planning director. Van Arsdale, a 22-year county government veteran, began her career as a master plan coordinator. Most recently, she served as director of commercial revitalization for the county . As part of her revitalization job, Van Arsdale oversaw efforts to bring businesses such as the to Towson and was the project manager for the redevelopment of the 63-acre Riverdale Apartment complex in Essex. She earned her bachelor's degree in natural resource management from Rutgers University and holds a master's degree in city and regional planning from Ohio State University.
- A resolution creating a was unanimously approved by the council. The district, the county's 15th, will extend from Belair Road from Blakely Avenue north to Minte Drive, extend along Joppa Road west to Seven Courts Drive and cover Ebenezer Road east to Yvonne Avenue. The program, created nearly 30 years ago, provides low-interest loans, tax credits, grants and on-call expertise to businesses within the district. Councilman David Marks said the main focus is to help improve the 50-year-old Perry Hall Shopping Center.