Community Issues - Special Laws

Bill 52-19, Uses (in DR2 and DR3.5) adjacent to MD Overlay District

Sponsor: Bevins Benefits: New county recreational facility operated by Blue Ocean and Coppermine (commercial enterprises)

This bill allows "alternative uses and development proposals on certain DR-zoned properties adjacent to the MD 43 Overlay District.

Campaign contributions by Blue Ocean:

  • 16 Nov 2017, $1,000 to Bevins
  • 2 May 2019, #2,000 to Olszewski
  • 6 May 2019, $2,000 to Bevins

This complicated Bill adds a whole section to the MD 43 District section of the BCZR to allow additional uses on DR2 and DR3.5 if the tract is:

  1. Adjacent to MD 43 district
  2. Has direct vehicular access to Campbell Blvd or MD 43, and
  3. Is under common ownership or control or part of a common scheme of development as other properties with a total area of at least 800 acres and having the MD 43 Overlay district.

(Item 3 is a little hard to parse and is legislatively vague. Does the phrase "having the MD 43 Overlay District" apply to the DR2 or DR3.5 parcel - which would be a contradiction - or to "other properties"?)

The additional uses allowed are outdoor commercial recreational facilities, including things like outdoor spectator seating, lighted fields, pools, living quarters for camps, restaurants, retail, offices, parking; etc. Just about everything allowed in business zones.

So this is, in effect, enlarging the MD 43 district while upzoning the intended property from residential to commercial. It will, no doubt, have serious impacts on the recently built and occupied, privately-owned, single-family homes nearby, some of which back-up to this new development.

It also specifies that development proposals shall be handled according to §259.11.D "which may allow waiver or modification of any applicable laws of (sic) regulations governing development, including height, area, bulk, or parking". Yet another set of exceptions! Remember, §259.11 is about the M43 District, and this is about land outside of that District!

This legislation is faulty in that it constitutes "Special Legislation" which is prohibited by the Maryland Constitution. The proper process was to consider this parcel during the 2020 CZMP, which had just begun when this Bill was introduced. Guess the developer (and the County) do not want to be delayed by the proper legal process which takes until August 2020, and Bevins is always willing to grease the skids. There is no issue in the CZMP 2020 for this.

The Bill also includes a strange provision that "residential use as permitted in the DR5.5 zone is permitted", which goes without saying since it is DR5.5. But it also includes a strange restriction of "no more than 5 acres" and "no multi-family or single-family attached units" although those are normaly allowed in DR5.5. It's pretty hard to fit 5.5 units into an acre without something being "attached".

Conversations have revealed that this Bill was intended to allow a huge, intense sports complex spanning both sides of Campbell Blvd on land owned by Bird River Realty, LLC, directly behind Our Lady Queen of Peace church on Bird River Rd. This parcel is almost all DR3.5, but has a small "sliver" of DR2 due to the inaccuracies in the drawing of the zoning line. They apparently included DR2 in the Bill just to be safe. This Bill allows bright lights, PA system, many outdoor fields, and even "dorms" for visiting players. This completely destroys the value of all the houses along Gladway Rd. The parcel, a total of 55 acres, is about 4,200 ft long and has about 590 ft on the short end that is actually adjacent to the M43 District. From the information available, it appears that the actual sports development will be about 1000 ft from the adjacent M43 District. Another case of "tail wag the dog".

There is no evidence that this 55a parcel is "under common ownership or control or part of a common scheme of development" with any other large areas of development to make 800 acres as required by this Bill. It is stand-alone.

This Bill is a sham!

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Updated 22 Aug 2021 by MAP