Community Issues

Special Laws

The Maryland Constitution, in the process of prohibiting them in Article III, Section 33, defines a "Special Law" as one that benefits a single person or land owner. The Baltimore County Council has repeatedly passed such bills, clearly intended to benefit one property, sometimes even saying so in newspaper articles, but often not even revealing to citizens whom the bill is intended to benefit. When called on this bad practice, they have argued that the bill, as worded, actually affects multiple properties, as if that technically makes it not "special" and thus okay. They rarely consider the unintended consequences on other properties, since they never ask the Planning Department to identify all such properties, and never ask the Planning Board to provide a recommendation on whether or not the legislation is appropriate.

It's interesting to note that the Circuit Court recently ruled that such a Bill in Howard County was an "illegal special bill". (It has been appealed to COSA.)

It should also be noted that these bills often have a shortened effective date, which certainly should only be allowed in the case that the Council decides that something is an "emergency". None of the Council minutes for the past years indicate that any of the following were determined to be an "emergency". The County Charter states in Section 308(f) that "the term 'emergency measure' shall not include any measure ... granting any franchise or special privilege, or creating any vested right or interest". Thus, it sure seems that this prohibits all of the cases described below with shortened effective dates. The important point is that the shortened effective date eliminates citizens' right to seek a referendum to delay or stop the bill's effectiveness pending the next General Election.

The once every 4 year CZMP includes extensive time and opportunities for the public to review and comment on each Issue, with multiple hearings before both the Planning Board and the Council before the Council members are expected to make a decision (with campaign contributions not allowed during this time). Conversely, the process of considering, reviewing, and commenting on these "Special laws" is within the existing usual 28- or 35-day period between introduction and vote, with one public hearing (Work Session), with the public often kept in the dark about the true intent of the bill. Every one of these bills is, in fact, upzoning in that it allows some use that was not previously allowed in some zone. Thus, for example, Bill 19-14 detailed below was effectively an upzoning of 140,000 acres of RC2.

The Planning Board was created to provide a review of proposed zoning regulation changes before they are considered by the Council. In virtually all of these cases, the Planning Board "considered" the Bill on their agenda only after it was passed.

There are many indications that a zoning Bill is a "special law" intended to benefit a single property, and was not studied to generally apply across the County. Some examples from the following list of Bills are:

  • For a very specific use - "candy store".
  • A specific irrelevant combination of zones - "part BM-IM and part BL-AS".
  • Being adjacent to or near some other zoning, especially when the newly allowed use is not even allowed on that adjacent or nearby zoning.
  • Odd criteria like "greater than 7 acres".
  • Based on an improper criteria - "contains a building on the Maryland Historic Trust Inventory".
  • Allowing a specific use in a specific zone, then building in some restriction so that it doesn't apply to similar conditions elsewhere (e.g., in some other Councilmatic District, but basing the exclusion on sothing else like Commercial Revitalization District).
  • Effective date less than the "normal" 45 days, implying an "emergency" when not. This deprives citizens of the right to delay effectivness via the referendum process.
  • Retroactive.
  • Not being first considered by the Planning Board for comments and a potential hearing.
  • Directly negating a decision in a current administrative law process or in ongoing court actions.
  • Based on some totally illogical condition, like distance from an Interstate Right-of-way (not an entrance)

A further, serious problem with some of these Bills is that they specify some "condition" under which the exception will apply, but leave no process to adjudicate that condition. See especially, Bills 42-14 and 53-18. According to some legal opinions, any "condition" makes it the same as a "Special Exception".

The following is a list of bills (and some resolutions) that fit in this category, going back to the beginning of many of the current Council members' time in office in 2011, with comments regarding the problem and an identification of which property or business was intended as the recipient of the benefit, where it is known. If anyone knows of the beneficiary to any of the others, I would like to hear about it. (Part of the problem is that there is no requirement for the Council member to reveal who the intended beneficiary is, except out of a sense of decency and fair play. Of course admitting to this would be admitting that the Bill is illegal.)

Note: This list is not to say that every bill resulted in a bad outcome - in fact, in some, the Council members sought a desirable result supported by citizens. The point here is that the process was wrong. For most, there are better methods of achieving the result - usually through changing the zoning via CZMP or leaving the decision to the Administrative Law Judge or court as previously required. When these are not appropriate, the issue should be raised for the Planning Department (and Planning Board) to study and provide a recommendation, which should apply universally across the County.

Some of the following also identify political contributions made by those who benefitted from the Bill, suggesting that they are rewarding the Council members for their actions. Although these are themselves not illegal, they do raise a question of ethics. Such contributions are banned during the legal re-zoning process - the CZMP.

A push has begun to get the People's Counsel to take action to put an end to this practice. See Letter. A formal complaint has also been filed with the County IG.

   Indicates ones that I opposed, either by testimony at the Work Session or letter to the Council member.

Bill 76-02, Raven's Training Camp

I am including this older Bill because it was so significant and obvious as a "special law" and is continuing to have ramifications. The Bill had an allowance for "practice, training, or physical conditioning facilities and fields for amateur or professional sports organizations" in RC5, although it was simply intended to allow the Ravens to build their training facility (outside the URDL). Certainly "amateur" was not intended. It is interesting that the Bill included several restrictions:

  • Accommodations for public spectators may not be provided
  • May not sell admission to the events
  • Must be located on publicly owned land

(Aren't all those parking spaces "accommodations"? and I'm sure they sell beer and provide toilets!)

So the facility was built on a 32-acre property owned by the County since 1997 and zoned RC5. Wonder if they are paying a fair lease and whether the legal requirements to publish the lease arrangements and allow competitive bidding for it occurred. (While a newspaper article in 2017 stated that the rent was $371,496.40, I heard from a reliable source that they pay $1 per year.)

The County extended the sewer system although this is outside the URDL and in an area that is still designated as "S-7 No Planned Community or Multi-Use Service". While there is a fire hydrant near the entrance on a 12' water main, it is unclear whether or not the water system was extended into the facility. It's hard to imagine that it was not! It is still designated as W-7.

Lately, the Ravens bought some adjacent RC4-zoned land and have expanded their parking for "1,200 fans" and it appears that no one in the County cares about protecting this RC land or requiring compliance with the BCZR (even as modified for them in 2002).

Incidentally, this is land that the County purchased in 1997, at which time it contained a deed restriction that it "may not be converted from outdoor/indoor public recreation and/or open space use without written approval from DNR and ... only after Baltimore County replaces the land with land of at least equivalent area ..." - standard text for land bought using "open space" funds. What land replaced this 32 acres that was taken from the public?

Update 2021: They have now expanded their parking lot well into the nearby RC4-zoned land to accomodate fans, a direct contradiction to the original Bill and the BCZR for RC4. I think a Code Enforcement complaint would be in order, but absolutely no chance that the County would take any action.

Bill 16-07, Planned Unit Developments

I am also including this older Bill as one of the most egregious examples of a "Special Bill", from before the present Council, done to the serious detriment of a local community.

Sponsor: Bartenfelder
Benefitted: developer of Galloway Creek PUD

Allows a general development PUD to be outside the Urban Rural Demarcation Line only in BMM or BMB in Bowleys Quarters Growth Management Area.

Introduced: Feb 5, 2007; passed March 5; effective March 16

This was to benefit the planned PUD at Galloway Creek, which the community spent years and lots of money fighting. Following a hearing, the order made note of this Bill, but correctly denied the development on a technicality - part of the planned PUD was outside of the BMB zone - as well as being contrary to the Master Plan. Many appeals followed and it was eventually approved.

(In typical fashion, although the legislation added a reference to "Bowleys Quarters Growth Management Area" to the allowance in the BCZR, a search of the county website yielded no match on that term, as if it did not exist. This effectively makes the legislation deficient, since all information must be posted online.)

The effective date being 11 days after passage even had the impact of preventing citizens from delaying its effectiveness by Referendum, as it does with many of the following Bills.

Bill 48-11, Farmer's Roadside Stand

Sponsors: Huff, Bevins
Benefitted: Springfield Farms

Allows a "Farmer's Roadside Stand" to be the whole "barn" (a 3-story one in this case).

This was intended to preempt the ongoing legal action against Springfield Farms' use of their barn for what was an exceptionally large commercial operation, hardly what anyone envisioned as a "roadside stand" when the regulations were first enacted.

Introduced August 1, 2011; passed September 6; effective 45 days

More info ---->

Bill 49-11, Accessory Apartments

Sponsors: Olszewski, Oliver, Bevins
Benefitted: 1109 Justa Ln

Allows accessory apartments within principal, residential building or in a separate building on same lot.

This bill goes against decades of policy in the County to prohibit additional residences on a single lot. While it requires that the extra apartment be occupied by relatives without compensation, this is virtually impossible to regulate. An attempt to limit the allowance to relatives that required care was rejected.

This bill was intended to benefit the property at 1109 Justa Ln to override a court decision against just such an apartment. That property wasn't even within the Districts of any of the three sponsors.

Introduced August 1, 2011; passed September 6; effective 45 days, but retroactive to a request filed after August 1, 2010.

More info ---->

Bill 56-11, Tattoo Establishments

Sponsors: Bevins, Oliver, Huff
Benefitted: Mr. B's Tattoo, which moved 530 ft from 7525 Belair Rd (BM 860ft from school) to 7554 (BL 1300 ft from school), both in Bevins' district

Since I cannot determine what this bill meant, I will simply include its text here:

Section 6 of Bill 29-98, as amended by Bill 46-06, be and is hereby repealed and re-enacted, with amendments, to read as follows:

SECTION 6. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, that this Act does not apply to a massage establishment or tattoo or body piercing establishment in existence in a business or commercial zone for at least 12 months prior to the effective date of this Act except if a massage establishment or tattoo or body piercing establishment relocates, other than a tattoo establishment that relocates within a BM CCC District that is less than 500 feet removed from its earlier location OR THAT RELOCATES FROM A LOCATION WITHIN 1,000 FEET OF A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SCHOOL TO A LOCATION WITHIN A BL, BM, OR BR ZONE WHICH IS FURTHER REMOVED FROM A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SCHOOL, BUT LESS THAN 1,000 FEET REMOVED FROM ITS EARLIER LOCATION. This section is not intended to waive any other provision or requirement of state or county law in effect prior to the effective date of this Act.

Examination of the Bill makes it clear that it was tailored to this situation. (Applies to a business that "relocates from a location within 1,000 feet of a school to a location within BL which is further removed ..."

This bill was faulty in that it states that it amends a bill from 13 years earlier. All Bills must amend the actual law on the books in the BCZR, not some old bill. Apparently, those who edit and produce the official copy of the BCZR could not figure it out either, as they simply inserted the above text as an "Editor's Note" at the beginning of Article 4B of the BCZR, not even within an actual Section, thus, it has no legal standing.

Passed October 3, 2011; effective October 16

More info ---->

Bill 60-11, Restaurants and Taverns in BLR Zones

Sponsors: Almond, Oliver
Benefitted: Valley Inn

Allows certain restaurant and tavern use outdoors in BLR if:

  • inside URDL
  • on Landmarks list
  • outdoor activities must end by midnight, except for outdoor dining and bar service (what does that leave as allowed?)
  • and outdoor activities allowed on adjacent DR if part of same parcel and not more than 15% of total parcel area

(It is unclear from the wording whether the outdoor uses on the adjacent DR portion must end by midnight, but it should be presumed to be intended to mean that.)

This bill was intended to benefit the Valley Inn at 10501 Falls Rd (in the 2nd District).

Introduced September 6, 2011; passed October 3; effective October 14

More info ---->

Bill 68-11, New Churches in BR

Sponsors: Oliver, Huff, Almond
Benefitted: Christian Life Church

Removes some of the Residential Transition Area (RTA) requirements for churches on a parcel that is part DR and part BR where building is entirely in the BR part. Also reduces restrictions for a church on BR located no closer to 150 ft from the RC zone (had been 750 ft).

This Bill was to benefit the Christian Life Church, 4120 Deer Park Rd (also 6605 Liberty Rd). The planned church was to be on the BR portion. Only a very small sliver of the parcel is DR3.5 due to inaccuracies in the zoning map. The parcel is adjacent to RC5, with the planned building being 250 ft from the RC5. The previous 750 ft limit would have caused restrictions on the building, such as a 35ft height limit. The Bill interrupted the ongoing "legal" battle.

Introduced September 19, 2011; passed October 17; effective October 28

More info ---->

Bill 71-11, Condominiums

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefitted: Waters Landing PUD, 21221

Provides exceptions to bulk regulations for certain condo projects in DR within Chesapeake Bay Critical Area.

Weakening of any restrictions in the Critical Area is a pretty good indication that this is being done to benefit one developer, to the detriment of the environment.

Introduced October 17, 2011; passed November 21; effective 45 days

More info ---->

Bill 18-12, Service Garages (in ML)

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: ?

Allows Truck service garages in ML by right and other service garages by Special Exception.

Bill 47-12, Signs

Sponsor: Huff
Benefitted: probably PSA Financial

Allows a new category of enterprise sign "(R)" - a wall-mounted or canopy on a multi-tenant building of at least 2 stories with minimum of 50,000 sq ft of floor area in MR, MLR, ML, MH, or OT.

This Bill was faulty since the "structural type" - enterprise, wall-mounted or canopy, multi-tenant - was already defined in (d), with one size-limited sign for each occupant, regardless of the building size. Thus, this Bill results in a conflict. It appears that the purpose of this Bill was to allow, in addition to the already-allowed one per tenant on the first floor by their entrance, an additional sign above the first floor to identify the tenant. But it fails to set a limit on the number of signs - literally allowing any number, each being "two times the length of the wall", whatever that means.

It is likely that this was to benefit the new McCormick building at the corner of York/Shawan to allow a sign for a tenant, PSA Financial, after they lost a zoning case to allow it. See case 2008-0582-A with a final decision against PSA by the Circuit Court on 24 Sept 2010.

Passed August 6, 2012; effective August 20

Bill 61-12, Amateur Athletic Associations

Sponsor: County Exec
Benefitted: ?

Allows amateur athletic association (non-profit) in ML, including offices, classrooms, indoor fields, facilities for spectators, etc. (as an "industrial use").

The only "amateur" associations (non-profit) that are known to exist are county rec programs. No such park has been found in ML, but it appears that this was to grease the skids for one later in the new 43 corridor (which apparently didn't happen). (See Bill 52-19.)

Introduced August 6, 2012; passed Sept 4; effective Sept 17

Bill 68-12, Out-of-water Storage Facilities

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefitted: Sunset Harbor Marina and Tradewinds Marina

Allows storage of water craft trailers, eliminates limit of 3 levels for out-of-water storage. This was apparently to benefit the Sunset Harbor Marina and the Tradewinds Marina. Their owners "appeared" to speak at the Council legislative session, which is highly unusual.

Introduced October 1, 2012; passed November 5; effective 45 days

More info ---->

Bill 76-12, MH Zones

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefitted: Martin State property developers

Allows BM or CT District uses in MH, if

This Bill is defective for several reasons (see "more info" for details):

  • Reference to MHT inventory
  • Reference to CT District uses

This bill was to overcome the challenge to the CZMP 2012 Issue 6-003 change in zoning from MH IM to BM CT for the Martin plant property at 2800 Eastern Blvd (which is 53.34 acres) in case it was put on hold by the referendum until the General Election in 2014. It is unknown if the wording of the bill would result in it being applicable to any other property. Probably not.

Introduced Nov 19, 2012; passed December 17; effective December 31. (Rushed so no 2nd referendum challenge could delay it.)

More info ---->

Bill 79-12, Residential Development in CT Districts

Sponsor: Huff
Benefitted: Hunt Valley Mall developers

Allows residential in BM CT District of Hunt Valley on first floor. Intended to allow the new condo/apartments at the old Hunt Valley Mall property.

Passed January 22, 2013; effective February 4.

Bill 81-12, Parking for athletic clubs and spas in CT District

Sponsor: Marks
Benefitted: ?

Reduces parking requirements in Towson for athletic clubs and health spas from 10 spaces per 1000 sq ft of floor space to 3 spaces, presumably based on there being plenty of other parking in Towson, and that many clients are students who walk.

Bill 4-13, Permitted Uses in BL

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: Jama Coca Candy Store

Allows candy store in BL to sell goods by Internet sales if made on site. It was written up in the paper who this was for. The condition was that they had to have a retail part, but even this was a sham - they were only required to be opened limited hours or by appointment for retail sales, that is, not a real storefront. See Balt Sun article.

This case may have identified an issue which needs to be addressed - allowing limited Internet sales by regular retail businesses - so it should be studied to come up with a comprehensive change that is not limited to "candy stores" and that properly limits Internet sales vs on-site sales.

An October 14, 2013 article in Balt Sun notes that 6 months after moving in, the retail portion was finally open. So, for 6 months they "concentrated on selling online and bulk sales" in violation of the Code established in this Bill.

Well, that didn't last long! Here is a Balt Sun article of January 5, 2015 of a Sorrento cafe opening in this space, noting that it had been empty for 7 months, meaning that the actual candy store was in operation less than 8 months, and less than 3 months legally.

Passed February 19, 2013; effective March 1 (another "emergency"?).
Planning Board "considered" March 7.

And see Bill 19-15 for an ironic follow-up on this property.

Bill 5-13, MD 43 Overlay District

Sponsor: County Exec
Benefitted: Developers?

Allows residential uses in MD43 District on a tract at least 800 acres. Allows "waiver of any applicable laws or regulations." Sounds pretty broad.

Passed February 19; effective March 4
Planning Board "considered" February 21 (Imagine, a Bill that effects over 800 acres by changing the Zoning Regulations, and the Planning Board was not even asked for an opinion before it happened! Not that it would have mattered.)

Bill 21-13, Theaters

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: Pikes Theater

Allows a theater, by right, if:

  • in commercial revitalization district
  • if there ever was a theater on the site

Intended for Pikes Theater, which allowed them to skip the previously required Special Exception procedure - which always has the possibility of opposition and an appeal.

I suggested that it at least be changed to say "in a building which was previously a theater", so that someone could not dig up the fact that a theater on a property burned down in 1880, so now they don't have to get a special exception to build a new one. The purpose of a Special Exception hearing is mostly to consider parking and traffic concerns - unknown in 1880. My suggestion was not taken.

Note: The Pikes Theater closed in 2018. Maybe it failed due to the lack of sufficient parking? It was resurrected in 2019. See article. Hope this one lasts.

Introduced March 18, 2013; passed April 15; effective 45 days

Bill 36-13, Parking in Commercial Revitalization Districts

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: Probably not the intended beneficiary, but this benefited the owner of 401 Reisterstown Rd.

Allows commercial parking on Residential-zoned land in a Revitalization District "if there is an existing parking facility". It is completely unknown what this means - a gravel parking lot? It also eliminates the RTA requirements for such a parking lot. In addition, at the legislative session, an amendment was made to add another provision to a different part of the BCZR to allow the Director of PAI to reduce the required number of spaces in certain cases - which had nothing to do with the original bill (other than being about "parking"), thus was an improper and illegal amendment.

Passed June 3, 2013; effective June 14.

Bill 41-13, MLR Zones

Sponsors: Huff & Olszewski
Benefitted: ?

Allows schools, including business or trade schools, in MLR.

Passed August 5, 2013; effective August 19.

Bill 50-13, RO Zones

Sponsor: Huff
Benefitted: Amanda's Pet Grooming

Allows dog grooming in RO. I was told by a friend that his animal care person had told him that Huff was going to "fix it for her" so she could continue her business in a new place. It was at this work session, after I made some comment comparing dog grooming with women's hair-dressers, that Huff made a comment about "bitches".

This was later identified as being 2341 York Rd in a Special Exception hearing in Case 2014-0144 which also asked for additional variances including no landscaping due to "financial hardship". What a scam!

(A few months later, this "friend" beat Huff 2-to-1 in the primary.)

Introduced September 16, 2013; passed October 21; effective 45 days

Bill 69-13, AS Overlay Districts

Sponsor: Huff

Withdrawn, see Bill 2-14.

Bill 2-14, AS Overlay Districts

Sponsor: Huff
Benefitted: Bill Kidd Volvo

Allows BM use (auto dealer, for example) on the BL portion of parcel if parcel is part BM-IM and part BL-AS.

Huff had previously introduced Bill 69-13, but the description was slightly broader, so could have applied to maybe a dozen properties around the County. He withdrew it, likely at the urging of other Council members. When the second bill was introduced, I identified it as applying only to the single property where the Hunt Valley Car Wash was at 10630 York Rd in Old Cockeysville, although Huff refused to confirm this in the Work Session when asked.

As was later revealed, this Bill was to allow Bill Kidd Volvo to change this property to an auto sales lot.

See Bill 17-15 for the follow-up. Also, Kach rezoned this "sliver" out of existence in CZMP 2016, but it was too late.

Introduced January 22, 2014; passed February 18; effective March 3 (What's the rush? Oh yeh, a DRC was scheduled for April 2 which was just shy of the mandated "normal" 45-day period.)

More info ---->

Bill 19-14, Community Care Center

Sponsor: Huff
Benefitted: Penn Mar, Maryland Line

Allows increased occupancy at community care facility above the existing limit of 75 persons for

  • site of at least 2 acres
  • outside the URDL
  • in RC2
It was for a specific facility at Maryland Line of 4.9a. The proper process would have been to change the zoning in the upcoming CZMP 2016 from RC2 to an appropriate business zoning.

Introduced April 7, 2014; passed May 5

More info ---->

Bill 22-14, ML Zone Use

Sponsor: Olszewski
Benefitted: Probably HAIpops Auto Service at 4016 North Point Blvd (now moved to 4040)

Allows service garage in ML IM, by right, if located "in a combination of an AS and IM District".

This Bill was faulty since it added the clause about "combination of AS and IM" both in the new item 29 as well as in the existing heading in Paragraph C, resulting in the already existing 28 items now also being allowed in these additional places. It was never known how much land in the County was effectively "upzoned" by this Bill since, as usual, the Planning Department/Board is never asked to study the impact.

It is unclear from the wording of the Bill whether it refers to an area that is both AS and IM or to a parcel that is part AS and part IM. If the latter, then "O" seems to have learned this trick from Huff (see Bill 2-14). If the former, there is probably no spot in Baltimore County to which is applies. Due to past intentional zoning decisions, there are numerous parcels along North Point Blvd that are split between ML IM and ML AS.

Introduced April 21, 2014; passed May 22; effective June 4

More info ---->

Bill 37-14, Landmarks Listing

Sponsor: Huff
Benefitted: Obrecht Family Trust

This Bill established a "historic environmental setting" around a building that had already been placed on the Landmarks list back in 2006. This would be a normal, un-suspicious action, except that this bill was not only effective in less than the normal 45 days, but was "retroactive to April 9, 2006" which is when the building had been placed on the landmarks list.

A further hint that something was afoot came when Huff was asked by the Chairperson in the Work Session who owned the property, and Huff refused to answer, saying "it's in there", referring to the notes that were provided to each member. It was not "in there". "Obrecht" was well known to Huff following the upzoning of land for them in 2012, in spite of serious citizen opposition.

Passed: June 2, 2014; effective June 13

Bill 38-14, ML Zone Use

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: ?

Allows flower shop (retail) in ML if planned industrial park of at least 25 acres or in an IM District.

Passed June 2, 2014; effective June 16.

Bill 42-14, Signs

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefitted: Williamsburg Inn (later Parker's, now Portside North)

Allows a sign to remain if erected prior to 1960 along a numbered US highway. (Marks got US1 excluded.)

This was introduced to preempt an ongoing legal battle. I had won at the variance hearing with the judge deciding that one of the existing signs should be removed. It was appealed, and then delayed. After the bill was passed, the appeal was withdrawn as moot, and they got to keep the sign (without even having to prove that it qualified under the new law).

Introduced July 7, 2014; approved August 4; effective August 18 (and retroactive to legally nonconforming signs - which this sign had not been)

More info ---->

Bill 43-14, Uses in RO - Diagnostic Imaging

Sponsor: Huff
Benefitted: ?

Allows a Diagnostic Imaging business in an existing Class B Office Building in RO with a Special Exception.

This Bill appears faulty with regards to any new use since it requires a Special Exception prior to 1988 and is added under a section that requires approval by the County Review Group which no longer exists.

Introduced July 7, 2014; withdrawn

Bill 63-14, Commercial Recreation Enterprises (in MH)

Sponsor: Olszewski
Benefitted: ?

Allows commercial recreation enterprise in MH "by right".

The Bill is technically faulty, since it states that it allows "others which, in the judgment of the Zoning Commissioner, are similar ..." This makes the "other" uses" by Special Exception, since this is the only process by which the Zoning Commissioner is asked to pass judgment.

Passed November 3, 2014; effective November 13.

Resolution 5-15, Pikesville Commercial Revitalization District

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: Daniel Ratner of Rockville, MD, owner of 2 parking lots near 401 Reisterstown Rd.

Normally, Resolutions have no impact on zoning or allowable uses; however, in this case, it did. Prior legislation (Bill 36-13) had resulted in an additional commercial parking allowance on residential-zoned property in a Commercial Revitalization District. When this Resolution 5-15 increased the area of the Pikesville District, it added two residentially-zoned parking lots which had been the subject of a 2014 zoning case in which the judge denied the request for a grocery store based on their planned improper use of these lots. This resolution, when coupled with the previous Bill 36-13, had the effect of "upzoning" these 2 lots so that the next zoning case with the same situation would not be denied. (CZMP 2016, Issue 2-025 later upzoned these to BL AS to allow a gas station, which never happened.)

Interesting follow-ups: The grocery store went in further up Reisterstown Rd and has already closed. This parcel is now being developed as an Assisted Living facility (Nov 2019), which required another change in the BCZR - see Bill 47-19.

More info ---->

Resolution 23-15, Expanding the Arbutus Revitalization Distict

Sponsor: Quirk, Jones

This adds a number of properties to the District. Because of previous Bills that added uses based on being within such Districts, this Resolution adds uses to some parcels.

More info ---->

Resolution 73-15, Expanding Towson Revitalization District

Sponsor: Marks

This adds a single property - the Kenilworth shopping center - to the District. It is unknown how this designation would "spur development" since it's already filled with nice buildings. I suspect this is to provide a nice tax benefit.

Introduced September 8, 2015; passed and effective September 21

More info ---->

Bill 17-15, AS Overlay Districts

Sponsor: Kach

This Bill is included here, although it was not, technically, a "Special Law" to benefit a specific property. Its purpose was to undo the illegal change made in Bill 2-14, not to grant a new additional right. In spite of heavy lobbying by neighbors especially impacted by this matter, and the long-standing practice of "Councilmanic Courtesy" when a Bill impacts a single District, the Council voted down this Bill 3-4 along party lines.

In CZMP 2016, Kach got rid of the narrow "sliver" that was the subject of Bill 2-14, so made it all moot.

Introduced March 2, 2015; defeated April 6 (Marks and Crandell voted "yes" with Kach)

More info ---->

Bill 19-15, Nanobrewery

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: New Zagross Brewery

Allows "nanobrewery" in BL. (In the Bill's definition, a "nanobrewery" is ridiculously large.)

This Bill was intended to allow the New Zagros Brewing Company in Arbutus. See June 9, 2015 Sun article which says that the first attempt was to put this brewery in the space on East Drive in Arbutus, ironically the same place where a short-lived candy store had been allowed by Bill 4-13.

Five years later, nothing has been done. After the original intended location fell through, a search for another location apparently failed (how hard can it be to find a vacant place?) The owner has gone back to being a "brewing consultant" for another brewery in Baltimore City (according to his linkedin page). Now, a Google search on "New Zagross Brewery" comes up with only one match - this site!

More info ---->

Bill 25-15, Signs

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: Suburban House

Allows a freestanding, joint identification sign in DR accessory to existing multi-tenant building of single lot in Pikesville Commercial Revitalization District. This was intended for the Suburban House property on Reisterstown Rd so they could put up a proper sign and remove the (illegal) ugly "temporary" signs.

Passed April 20, 2015; effective May 4, as if an "emergency", but, nearly 2 years later, a new sign was still not installed and the old crappy ones remained.

Bill 26-15, RC2 Zone Use

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefitted: Lorely Beach Community Association

Allows community building by Special Exception in RC2. This was intended to allow one for a community association on Beach Rd on Bird River.

See Zoning case 2016-0064.

Note that the Zoning case refers to it being a replacement in the same footprint as the existing building, and that statement was added to the Bill on the night of passage.

Bill 27-15, Mobile Homes

Sponsor: Bevins (6th District)
Benefitted: Probably the trailer park in Kingsville (5th District)

Redefines terms related to residential trailers and trailer parks and mobile home parks and permitting mobile home parks in ML.

This bill is puzzling. Why would anyone spend so much effort to redefine terms (when there are so many other areas of the BCZR that cry out for revision)? Considering how things have been going, I have to suspect that this was written by a lawyer for a mobile home park owner who slipped in some advantages for themselves - most likely the one in Kingsville.

Passed April 20, 2015

More info ---->

Bill 35-15, Scrap Metal Procesing Facility

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: Recovermat Mid Atlantic

Allows a scrap metal processing facility by right in MH if:

  • on lot of 7 acres or greater;
  • at least 1400 ft from any DR zone; and
  • within 500 ft of r/w of federal Interstate highway
or if:
  • on parcel of 1000 acres (only Sparrows Point would qualify)
  • at least 1000 ft from residential zone
    or, by Special Exception if:
  • less than 1000 ft from residential
but prohibited in MD43 overlay.

Introduced April 20, 2015; passed May 21; effective June 1.

This bill was obviously intended for Recovermat Mid Atlantic at 2202 Halethorpe Farms Rd which meets the criteria with 8.6a, 1800 ft from DR5.5, adjacent to I-695 (but only 370ft from RC2 which some do not consider as "residential").

More info ---->

Bill 36-15, Signs, Identification, Wall-mounted

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: ? College

Defines a new category of Identification signage for private colleges to allow a wall sign on a stadium, up to 300 sq ft and illuminated. At least it did prohibit changeable copy.

Introduced April 20, 2015; passed May 21; effective June 3

Bill 37-15, Health Care and Surgery Center

Sponsors: Almond, Jones, Quirk
Benefitted: ?

Allows Health care and surgery center in OR-2 and BM by right.

Passed May 21, 2015; effective June 1.

Bill 48-15, Firearm Sales in ML IM

Sponsors: Crandell, Kach, Marks (3 Republicans)
Benefitted: Probably Freestate Gun Range in Windlass Run Business Park (in Bevins' District)

Allow firearms sales in planned industrial park of at least 25 acres in net area and in ML IM.

Passed July 6, 2015; effective 45 days

Bill 49-15, Parking

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: Seasons Grocery

Decreases parking requirements for certain retail uses in the Pikesville Commercial Revitalization District from 5 spaces to 3 for every 1,000 sq ft of floor area. This was intended to benefit the planned Seasons grocery store on Reisterstown Rd which was already being built. It appears that they found out too late that they did not have enough parking. They should have filed for a variance, which is almost always granted anyway.

The building is about 25,000 sq ft and the existing parking lot has about 77 parking spaces, so it looks like the "3" in the Bill was picked especially to fit this property, not because it was determined to be the proper value for this type of store.

Passed July 6, 2015; effective July 20

Contribution, August 6, 2015, $2,000, Zachary Richards, Seasons, to Almond.

Bill 53-15, Regional Outlet Shopping Center

Sponsor: Bevins, Quirk
Benefitted: Outlet Mall developer

Allows Regional Outlet Mall on ML-IM and BL (thus also on BM and BR) if "site" is:

  • at least 45 acre, and
  • adjacent to I-95.

Comment: This retail use was already allowed in BM and BR and is ridiculous in BL ("Local"). It is unknown what "site" means in this case, whether a single "parcel", or multiple contiguous parcels under joint ownership Thus, this bill is "technically" deficient.

An extensive search of the zoning maps shows that this Bill applies only to the one property on Philadelphia Rd in White Marsh where it had been announced that an outlet mall was planned. At the Council work session and legislative session, Bevins and the other Councilmembers spoke only about this one property (with a passing remark about maybe another mall could be built in Quirk's district). No site can be found in Quirk's district that meets the criteria of this bill. This makes the bill unconstitutional.

Introduced July 6, 2015; passed August 3; effective August 17.

Note: After passage, citizens successfully pushed this to a referendum but, because of the shortened "emergency" effective date, that did not stop it from going into effect until the vote in the General election, which failed to overturn it.

Interestingly, it has now been reported in the Balt Sun that the company has backed out of this plan, and the property owners are thinking of selling it for some other use. Now that it has been changed from ML to BM in the CZMP, it is possible that some new planned use (manufacturing) would require another re-zoning (back to ML?), or another "special bill" to allow that new use. In fact, it has been developed with yet another huge Amazon warehouse, child care facility, and a storage building.

Bill 64-15, Micro-brewery and Farm Brewery

Sponsor: Kach
Benefitted: Black Locust Farm, 21305 Heathcote Rd zoned RC2 (see zoning Case 2016-0107-XA)
Also benefitted: Heart & Solar Brewery, 21213 York Rd zoned RC5 (see zoning Case 2016-0112-X)
Also may benefit: 2800 Monkton Rd (see zoning Case 2017-0327 (trying to create "brewery" to legitimize illegal wedding receptions)

Allows either:

  • micro-brewery (Class 7) which must be with a standard restaurant and may brew up to 10,000 barrels per year; or
  • farm brewery (Class 8) which must be on at least 10 acres and may brew up to 15,000 barrels per year
in RC2, RC4, RC5, RC6, RC7, and RC8 zones by Special Exception. Also allows "public gatherings", but it is not clear from the wording whether the "public gatherings" require a separate ALJ approval.

This was intended for Black Locust Farm, where the owners have been growing hops for years and now plan to make their own beer. See Balt Sun article

Such an intense use (with public gatherings) would not be appropriate in an RC5 zone, which is "residential", nor in RC4 (watershed protection).

Introduced September 8, 2015; passed October 5; effective 45 days

Bill 68-15, ML Zone Uses (winery)

Sponsor: Kach
Benefitted: Millstone Cellars Cider Mill

Allows a winery in ML. Intended for an expansion/new location for the present Millstone Cellars cider mill on Monkton Rd to a location on Wiseburg Rd, which is ML because it was once a paper mill. See previous zoning Case 2012-0183 which allowed the cider mill at it current location against neighbors' objection.

See February 18, 2016 Sun article about this project and saving the old Glencoe train station.

Introduced September 8, 2015; passed October 5; effective 45 days

Bill 69-15, ML Zones (sale of electronics)

Sponsor: Jones
Benefitted: ?

Allows sale of electronic equipment in ML.

Introduced September 21, 2015; passed October 19; effective 45 days

Bill 79-15, Basic Service Maps

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: ?

Exempts development in a Commercial Revitalization District from the Basic Service mapping standard, that is, these developments are not stopped by inadequate sewer or water systems or by the fact that they are in the trafficshed of a failing intersection. (There was already a long list of exemptions.)

Originated by request in Resolution 34-14 to Planning Board to study.

Introduced October 5, 2015; passed November 2; effective November 16 and applies to a District established prior to this.

More info ---->

Bill 86-15, MH Zone Use Regulations

Sponsor: Crandell
Benefitted: Tradepoint (Sparrows Point)

Allows a whole set of uses on a 2,500 acre tract under common ownership or control zoned MH. As reported in the Sun, it is "believed that Sparrows Point Terminal is the only property that would be affected" and that, without the bill, they would "have to go through cumbersome processes such as seeking a zoning change in the CZMP or submitting a PUD".

The real kicker in this bill is the final sentence that says that "a plan for development for any portion" will be treated as if it had an "A" exemption. An "A" exemption is normally granted for such trivial things as a dwelling on a single lot, one tenant house on a farm, or a lot line adjustment when the number of lots is not changed and there is no increase in total density. It exempts the development from compliance with Subtitle 2.

Passed December 7, 2015; effective December 21

More info ---->

Resolution 50-16, Loch Raven Commercial Revitalization District

Adds area to the District. Because of previous Bills that added uses based on being within such Districts, this Resolution adds uses to some parcels.

More info ---->

Resolution 67-16, Merritt-Sollers Point Commercial Revitalization District

Creates new District. Because of previous Bills that added uses based on being within such Districts, this Resolution may add uses to some parcels.

More info ---->

Bill 21-16, RO Use

Sponsor: Kach
Benefitted: ?

This Bill allow in RO, by Special Exception, a Class B Office Building with retail sales via mail, phone, or Internet, no walk-in, shipped only. (Compare with allowance for same thing in Candy store in Bill 4-13 in BL where "walk-in" was required.)

Introduced 4 Apr 2016; approved May 2; effective 45 days

Bill 53-16, BM zone

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: ?

Provides an exception so that the limits defined in Section 235C for a building in BM within 750 ft of an RC Zone do not apply for a lot if:

  • in a CCC District in Bare Hills Village in Ruxton, Riderwood, or Lake Roland area, or
  • it had already been provided this exception for such a CCC district existing on October 5, 1998.

This is a guess at the meaning. The actual intent and impact is virtually impossible to figure out due to the complex wording that results from this Bill. Another example of really bad legislation!

Introduced 1 Aug 2016; approved Sept 6; effective Sept 19

Bill 73-16, Open Space

Sponsor: Almond, Marks
Benefitted: ?

This Bill made significant changes to the definition of what constitutes "open space", including allowing "indoor uses" such as a pool, gym, lounge, or game room.

It further contains a strange statement that open space means "a parcel or parcels of land that is a minimum average of 75 feet wide or has an average grade of no more that 15 percent". (Clearly the "or" should be "and".) It is unknown how one determines the "minimum average width" of an irregular-shaped parcel. There really is no such thing as "average grade".

Introduced Oct 3, 2016; approved Nov 7 (with extensive amendments); effective Nov 21

More info ---->

Bill 76-16, Riding Stables in RC5

Sponsor: Marks
Benefitted: Riding stables in Kingsville

Allows riding stables in RC5 by right if more than 200 ft from residential property line and in existence for at least 15 years. By Special Exception if within 200 ft of residential property line.

This bill is intended to benefit a specific riding stable on Bradshaw Rd a couple blocks from my house. The bill is flawed in several ways:

  1. It refers to distance "from residential property line", although the zone it is being allowed in (RC5) is itself residential. It should say "from an adjoining residentially-zoned parcel".
  2. The "by right" is based on it having been in existence for 15 years (apparently illegally), but it provides no mechanism to make this determination. Such things require a public hearing, such as a Special exception.
  3. Note that "Riding Stable", which is what is subject to the 200 ft limit, is defined as "a building where riding horses are boarded or kept for hire". Thus, the 200 ft limit would not apply to any outdoor activities. It is unknown how this limit applies to this property, since the major building on the property identified as "commercial" is about 17 ft from an adjacent residential property and 74 ft from another. Again, a public hearing, with a site plan presented, is where this would be resolved.

Note that this Bill did not allow anything that was not already allowed - it just greased the skids by eliminating the Special Exception process for this case, eliminating some expense for the owner, and eliminating the possibility of opposition by neighbors.

The Bill was passed on Nov 21, 2016 and effective 45 days later (January 6, 2017)
Planning Board "considered" January 19, 2017.

For the record, let me make it clear that I am not opposed to this business. It is one of the things that makes this "rural" area a good place to live. See local businesses. The present owners/operators have been as asset to the community. In opposing such relaxed provisions, it is often stated that we do not fear the present owners - it is the next one that we do not trust.

Bill 87-16, Convenience Stores

Sponsors: Marks, Quirk, Almond, Jones
Benefitted: Wawa or Royal Farms (or both)

Increases the allowable size of convenience stores, by right, from 1,500 to 6,000 sq ft, reduces setback of gas pumps from residential, allows carry out restaurant in certain cases. This is obviously to benefit a large chain of gas stations, most likely Royal Farm, which have been going up around the County, and to eliminate some of the basis for citizen opposition.

Introduced November 21, 2016; passed December 19; effective 45 days

For example, see Zoning cases:

  • 2014-0131-SPHXA (Royal Farms, 118 Mount Carmel Rd) Special Exception for sales area greater than 1,500 sq ft, order 29 Jan 2014, still being fought by residents - some of the provisions of this Bill weaken their arguments (In Kach's District).
  • 2017-0126-XA (Carroll Fuel, 6207 N Charles), larger than 1,500 sq ft, filed 1 Nov 2016, held 28 Dec, granted 30 Dec (Marks' District)
  • 2017-0161-X (Royal Farms, 9740 Reisterstown Rd), larger than 1,500 sq ft, filed 15 Dec 2016, hearing 10 Oct 2018, granted 12 Oct (Almond's District).
  • 2017-0241-SPHA (Weis at Putty Hill Shopping Center on Belair Rd), which is still asking for another variance from this 100 ft setback. Filed 10 Mar 2017, hearing 27 Apr, granted 3 May (Mark's District)
  • Towson Gateway (PUD)

Bill 88-16, DR Zone Use (snowball stand)

Sponsor: Marks
Benefitted: Snowball stand on Joppa Rd near Magledt

Allows a snowball stand ("permanent or temporary") in DR5.5 zones if:

  • on property adjacent to RO
  • on property with dual frontage along public roads
  • in existence for at least 25 years prior to this act (Quirk added this, apparently to prevent new ones in his district.)
  • subject to any additional conditions (which should require a hearing, thus, a Special Exception)

This bill was intended to allow the continuing operation of an "iconic" snowball stand on Joppa Rd near Magledt. This property has two "frontages" although there is no actual access to and from Magledt, so one could argue that this really does not comply with the Bill.

Introduced November 21, 2016; passed December 19; effective 45 days.
Planning Board "considered" ?.

More info ---->

Bill 97-16, Vehicle sales in ML

Sponsor: Quirk, Kach, Marks, Bevins, Almond
Benefitted: ?

Allows making, servicing, selling vehicles for people with disabilities in ML. (Isn't any car usable by a person with a disability?)

The people of Cockeysville, who have been fighting a car dealer for years, partly on ML, should be worried that this is an under-handed way to sneak in vehicle sales in ML.

Introduced December 19, 2016; passed January 17, 2017; effective January 30.
Planning Board "considered" February 2, 2017.

Bill 1-17, Used Motor Vehicles (sale in ML)

Sponsor: Bevins

Allows indoor storage of used vehicles for sale in ML, with customer access for "completion of paperwork" for cars previously ordered online. (Implies, but does not state, that customers cannot come in, browse, and buy on the spot. What car salesman would refuse?)

Maybe this is an expansion of what Bill 97-16 allowed to benefit the same car dealer in Cockeysville?

This was withdrawn. Did some other Council member finally see through the charade?

Bill 11-17, Bakery (in BM)

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: ?

Allows a bakery, with a retail operation, in BM by right with no stated limitations. They are already allowed, as they are in BL, with the requirement that goods baked must be sold on the premises, but 30% of area may be used for wholesale operation if in a commercial revitalization district (which was added in Bill 86-09, sponsored by the previous Council member from the 1st District). The impact of this Bill would be to allow it outside of a commercial revitalization district and to get rid of the 30% limit on space used for the wholesale operation. Wonder if this new Bill is intended to benefit the same business as Bill 86-09 did.

Introduced February 21, 2017; passed March 20; effective April 3.
Planning Board "considered" April 6.

Bill 21-17, Medical Cannabis

Sponsor: Almond

This bill adds ML as one of the zones where a cannabis dispensary is allowed by right, but then disallows one in ML in a Chesapeake Enterprise Zone. (The Code already requires a Special Exception if in a Commercial Revitalization District.)

For reference, the Chesapeake Enterprise Zone is a terribly gerrymandered area shown in Resolution 18-15 which is nowhere near Almond's district.

Introduced April 17; passed May 25; effective June 7.
Planning Board "considered" June 15.

Bill 23-17, Zoning - Licensed Arborist

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefitted: Allen and Sons Tree Service, ne corner Harford and Taylor

This Bill allows a "Licensed Arborist" to be in BL. In actuality, what it defines as an "arborist" is a "tree-care" company with all their "vehicles and equipment necessary" to "maintain, plant, trim, or remove trees". That makes it a "contractor's equipment storage yard" which is currently allowed only in BR and SE by Special Exception. The only thing they can't have on the property under this new Bill would be "material", presumably meaning plants or logs.

Just before passage, the Bill was amended so that it would only apply within the Parkville Commercial Revitalization District. Thus, it will not negatively affect business-zoned properties in the rest of the County, so it will only be Parkville that could be trashed when this, or another, business gets out of hand.

Introduced April 17, 2017; passed May 25; to be effective June 7
Planning Board "considered" June 15.

More info ---->

Bill 31-17, R-O-A Zone

Sponsor: Marks
Benefitted: apparently the owner of 208 Pennsylvania Ave: Timothy W Thompson of Blenheim Rd

This Bill "provides an exception to the general rule" by allowing a new building in the East Towson Community Conservation Area on a lot of not less than 8700 sq ft to be used as a Class A Office building, whereas, the previous limit was for a building which had been occupied as a residence for at least 5 years. Not much of a way to "conserve a community"!

The current references to the "East Towson Community Conservation Area" are to the Towson Community Plan approved in 1992. That plan described all the things that "should" be done to preserve this historic African-American community. Bill 49-16 removed the reference in the BCZR, as if it were being subsumed into the new DT District (which can't be applied to ROA).

Introduced May 1, 2017; passed June 5; effective June 19
Planning Board "considered" June 15.

More info ---->

Bill 34-17 - Breweries

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: Diageo - Guinness, 5001 Washington Blvd

Allows Class 5A and 5B Breweries on a tract of land that is:

  • under common ownership (apparently allowing it to be multiple parcels);
  • at least 40 acres;
  • zoned a combination of ML and MH (Class 5B is already allowed in both zones inside the URDL);
  • within 500 ft of r/w of interstate (unknown how to measure this, only matters how far from an entrance/exit); and
  • frontage on state road (no matter what Classification?)
Also allows:
  • live music, food service and public catering, festivals, parking;
  • all uses may be inside or outside with no setbacks;
  • an existing parking lot may be striped without meeting other requirements;
  • extra signage, including on roof; and
  • a distillery (which is currently allowed only in MH inside the URDL)

Introduced June 5, 2017; passed July 3; effective July 17, 2017
Planning Board "considered" July 30

More info ---->

Bill 44-17 - Cannabis Dispensaries - Location

Sponsor: Marks
Benefitted: Neighbors of planned dispensary at 4741 Ridge Rd

Adds a new setback requirement for dispensaries to be 800 ft from any planned school property. The present setback (unchanged by this bill) is 500 ft from an existing school property. Thus, once the school is built (which it is in Nov 2021), the dispensary would then be allowed, but not before.

This bill was intended to block a dispensary on a small, pocket BL zone in Nottingham.

What needs to be done is to significantly restrict uses on all "pocket" commercial zones in otherwise residential areas, which were created when zoning was first introduced in 1955.

Introduced July 3, 2017; withdrawn August 7

Resolution 69-17, Additions to the Pikesville Commercial Revitalization District

Sponsor: Almond
Benefitted: Pomona, Armory?

This resolution would add about 34 acres of residentially-zoned land to the Commercial Revitalization District. Much of this is currently open space, surrounding a number of residential apartments or condos, and especially including the vacant space on the northwest corner of Riesterstown Rd and Naylors Ln. None of this area is known to require any "revitalization", certainly not "commercial revitalization", although one can presume that the owner would love to fill in that valuable vacant lot on the corner. It is suspected that the whole reason for this action is to exempt future development of this area from the restrictions that might otherwise occur due to deficiencies in Basic Services - water, sewer, and transportation.

To make this whole thing worse, at the legislative session, the Resolution was amended to include the Armory property with a statement that it was missed in the original resolution by an "oversight". And the final resolution states that "there are constraints on the Armory property that have hindered its redevelopment to this point, and inclusion in the District may provide additional opportunities for redevelopment and revitalization". This parcel is also zoned Residential, which is the "constraint", which can only be fixed through an actual zoning change.

Interestingly, I later talked to the sales director of Pomona and she claimed to know nothing of this action or why it was done.

Here is a map of the addition.

Introduced July 3, 2017; passed August 7

Resolution 73-17, Additions to the Perry Hall Commercial Revitalization District

Sponsor: Marks
Benefitted (not): planned cannabis dispensary

This resolution added the Festival at Perry Hall and the area behind the Double-T Diner (both old and new locations) (map) to the District. Unlike Resolution 69-17 detailed above, this one made some sense, as the areas added are zoned commercial. However, the Festival was a "bump-out" from the existing District and, suspiciously, this resolution did not include the commercial properties on either side of it, which are equally in need of "revitalization". This is obviously intended to block the planned cannabis dispensary by requiring that they get a Special Exception (which appeals can hold up for so long that they will go elsewhere).

Introduced 7 Aug 2017; passed Sept 5.

Bill 66-17, Residential Uses in ML Zones Adjacent to CT Districts

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefitted: Chesapeake Realty Partners

This Bill allows residential use in ML if:

  • at least 10 acre
  • within 525 feet of the BM-CT District of White Marsh (White Marsh Mall)
  • part of a contiguous area of 200 acre or more of ML west of I-95
and exempts development from §102.2

Amendments made on the final legislative night added a similar allowance for Foundry Row, based on its closeness to the Owings Mills BM CT District. In this case, it provides a reduction in the Local open space waiver fee.

Introduced Oct 16, 2017; passed November 20
Planning Board "considered" January 18, 2018.

More info ---->

Bill 71-17, Indoor Shooting Range

Sponsor: Jones
Benefitted: Guntry Club, 10705 Red Run Blvd

This was originally introduced as Bill 63-17, but withdrawn. The new version is identical.

This Bill allows an indoor shooting range in ML if within the Red Run Employment Corridor of the Owings Mills Growth Area and at least 500 ft from any residence. This also allows the sale of firearms and a restaurant. The "Red Run Employment Corridor" is defined in the Master Plan 2020 as being 915 acres and includes this parcel.

See Baltimore Sun article which states that "the bill was written specifically for the project".

Introduced Nov 6, 2017; passed Dec 4; effective Dec 18
Planning Board "considered" January 18, 2018.

Bill 7-18, Tattoo or Body Piercing Establishments (in BL)

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: Zach Volatile at 4809 Leeds Avenue

This Bill allows a tattoo parlor in BL if:

  • In the Arbutus Commercial Revitalization District
  • Within 350 ft of Interstate 695 (no idea what this has to do with the allowance)
  • The BL zone (not the property itself) adjoins an industrial zone (It is not clear what an "industrial zone" is in this Bill. The intended location is in a BL area that is adjacent to DR5.5, ML, BM, and ML IM. Among the "zones", there is none called "industrial", although the term appears to be used informally to mean "manufacturing" zones.)

See Balt Sun article which quotes Quirk's aide as saying the legislation was drafted with the specific location in mind. The Bill might as well name the person.

It is especially bothersome that the article refers to a poll on the Arbutus Facebook group as the backing for doing this. Since when do we allow Facebook to be used to gauge public opinion? Volatile noted what much of the opposition was the older generation (those who are less likely to do Facebook).

Introduced Feb 5, 2018; passed Mar 5; effective Mar 19
Planning Board "considered" March 15.

Bill 8-18, Tattoo or Body Piercing Establishments (in BM DT)

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: Deirdre Aikin at 501 York Rd

This Bill allows a tattoo parlor in BM DT (basically downtown Towson) if:

  • Above ground floor
  • Less than 3,000 sq ft
  • In combination with an art gallery (which is not defined)
  • Not within 500 ft of any principal residential structure other than a multifamily building
  • At least 90 ft from another tattoo parlor (the limit otherwise is 2,500 ft).
And sets some limits for:
  • Signage limited to a wall-mounted sign that is not a "neon" sign and does not include mention of "tattoo or body piercing"
  • Limits on hours of operation

It is intended to allow one above the Wells Fargo Bank. It would appear to negate the current limit of such businesses being 2,500 ft distant from each other.

Introduced Feb 5, 2018; passed Mar 5; effective Mar 19
Planning Board "considered" May 17.

More info ---->

Bill 21-18, Cold Rolling Mill in ML IM

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: Empire Resources, 8911 Kelso Dr.

This bill allows a "Cold" Rolling Mill at this location which was previously Worthington Steel (zoned Manufacturing, Light). According to the definition in the Bill, this involves heating in a furnace to up to 500 degrees Celsius, which sounds like heavy manufacturing. This could be of concern to some, since it is adjacent to a DR5.5 zone and less than 500 ft from a large number of residences. Note that the existing allowance for hot rolling mills, and lots of other intense uses, in MH require that they be at least 300 ft from any residential zone and 200 ft from a business zone. In the intended case, the building is 200 ft from residential zones on 2 sides.

Introduced Mar 5, 2018; passed Apr 2; effective Apr 16

Bill 30-18, ML uses in BL

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: Rosedale Roofing

This Bill further degrades the purpose and protections of the BL zone and is total crap! It would allow most of the ML (Manufacturing Light) uses by right and by special exception on a parcel otherwise zoned BL (Business Local) if the parcel is:

  • Within the URDL
  • BL as of April 16, 2018
  • Having at least a portion within 1,250 ft of the MD 43 Overlay District as of April 16, 2018 that is under common ownership with at least 800 acres in the MD 43 Overlay District
While allowing all these ML uses, it does not even incorporate the screening requirements from residential boundaries and motorways that apply to ML.

This is clearly intended to benefit a specific property in the new White Marsh area. The proper procedure, if it would be proper for these uses to exist on this parcel, would be to change the zoning to ML during the next CZMP.

This is completely contrary to the principals of zoning and the designation and purpose of Districts. Any Council member should be ashamed to propose or support such blatantly improper legislation!

Introduced Apr 16, 2018; passed May 24 with amendments; effective June 2
Planning Board "considered" June 7.

More info ---->

Bill 47-18, ML zone - Concerts

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: 160 Church Ln?

This Bill allows, in ML, a theater, auditorium, or concert hall that includes indoor or outdoor stages where live music is performed, under the following conditions:

  • within boundaries of Hunt Valley/Timonium Master Plan
  • at least 1,500 ft from a residential zone
  • capacity limited to 500 people

As of Nov 2021 there seems to be no further action to implement this allowance. There is currently a company here that manufactures pure alcohol and other chemicals.

Introduced May 7, 2018; passed June 4; effective June 18
Planning Board "considered" June 21.

Bill 51-18, Vesting

Sponsor: Crandall
Benefits: Berger Property

This bill changes the vesting procedures to allow 15 years for certain developments that have been granted a growth allocation. In a June 6 article in the East County Times, Crandall stated that this bill applies to only 2 parcels in his district, but revealed that it was primarily intended to benefit the Berger Property.

Introduced May 7, 2018; passed June 4; effective June 18
Planning Board "considered" on June 21.

Resolution 46-18, Additions to the Baltimore National Pike Commercial Revitalization District

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: Royal Farms at 6426 Baltimore National Pike

This Resolution added a half dozen parcels to the Revitalization District, thus allowing development on the furthest one to proceed in spite of being located within the deficient "traffic-shed" caused by the failing intersection at Baltimore National Pike and Rolling Rd.

Introduced May 24, 2018; passed June 4

More info ---->

Bill 53-18, Planned Drive-In Clusters

Sponsor: Almond
Benefits: Royal Farms, 1721 Reisterstown Rd

This Bill defines a new type of "Drive-in Cluster". While the existing definition (now called "Type 1") required 3 acres, 500 ft of frontage, the newly defined "Type 2" allows 2.5 acres, 250 ft of frontage, and required access within 300 ft of the r/w of an Interstate. (Note that it is not based on actual "access" to that Interstate at an entrance, just being near the Interstate.)

This allowed a gas station and car wash by right where the Ramada in Pikesville currently is, instead of by Special Exception.

Introduced June 4, 2018; passed July 2; effective July 16

More info ---->

Bill 54-18, Neighborhood Commons Overlay District

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefits: Lansdowne Volunteer Fire Company, 4314 Hollins Ferry Rd

The Neighborhood Common District was created by Bill 7-12 to "promote more livable communities through the preservation of land for the purpose of community parks, gardens and natural areas". It was intended as a "no development" zoning tool to ensure that no use is ever made of these open spaces. In CZMP 2016, Issue 1-053, Quirk both proposed and approved a change to NC for this specific parcel (against planning staff and Planning Board recommendations), which was County Open Space.

The County purchased this parcel in 1977. The deed (5802:190) states: "may not be converted from outdoor public recreation or open space use to any other use without the prior written approval of the Secretary of [Department of] Natural Resources and the Secretary of the Department of State Planning". Another Council action on 3 July was to buy 4a in Halethorpe at 630 Washington Ave to replace this Open Space parcel.

This Bill allows the building of Volunteer Fire Company Stations in NC by Special Exception (if allowed by the underlying zoning). This is in direct contradiction with the purpose of this new District, which was created by the Council partially to prevent the County Administration from using Open Space land to build anything. It is a part of the River View Park.

This is the improper process for this purpose. If it is felt that such a use would be appropriate in some specific case, then that area should be rezoned to remove the NC designation. There was plenty of time to wait until 2020 CZMP to do this, which would give the neighbors, who would be most affected, the opportunity to argue against the zoning change. We all know that citizens have an uphill battle to stop a Special Exception.

Now 3+ years later, there has been no action yet for a Zoning hearing to seek the Special Exception needed.

Introduced June 4, 2018; passed July 2; effective July 16
Planning Board "considered" on July 19.

Bill 63-18, Storage Yard (in DR)

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: Community Enterprises, Inc.

Allows a construction or contractor's equipment storage yard by right in DR if:

  • less than 4 acres
  • in continuous operation for more than 4 years (i.e., illegally) and existing prior to 2016
  • unloading, sorting and temporary storage of dismantled building material shall not be considered a recycling operation (which would entail other restrictions).
  • area within 75 feet of adjoining residential property limited to access, passenger vehicle parking and landscaping
  • residential transition area requirements shall not apply

Introduced August 6, 2018; withdrawn Aug 28; (see below)

Bill 81-18, Storage Yard (in DR)

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: Community Enterprises, Inc.

This Bill is exactly the same as Bill 63-18 which Marks had withdrawn at my request, indicating that he would revise it.

Introduced October 1, 2018; withdrawn Oct 25.

More info ---->

Bill 90-18, Private College in DR

Sponsor: Almond
Benefits: Presumably Stevenson University

This Bill allows, by right, a private college use in DR if the property is recommended for designation for institutional/educational use in an approved community plan. This is quite significant, as it establishes a case in which the Community Plan (part of the Master Plan) actually take precedence over the Zoning Regulations. The proper method is to rezone the property during the next CZMP to a zoning designation that allows colleges.

Introduced Oct 15, 2018; passed Nov 19; effective Dec 3

Bill 104-18, Fuel Service Stations

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: MC Owings Mills, LLC, owner of old Franks Nursery & Craft at 10550 Reisterstown Rd

Allows gas station on BM or BR (by Special Exception) if:

  • at least 2 acres (subject property is 2.84a + .93a + .69a in 3 parcels)
  • more than 250 ft frontage on Principal Arterial Roadway (subject property is 255 ft)
  • vacant or with a building vacant for 5 years, and
  • with convenience store of less than 6,000 sq ft

But this bill is not needed. Fuel service stations (also called Automotive Service Stations) are already allowed by Special Exception in BM and BR with a convenience store up to 6,000 sq ft.

Ironically enough, the property owners dropped the fuel station idea and have begun the development process (DRC on May 28, 2019) for a "Storage Facility and the construction of future retail use".

Introduced Dec 17, 2018; passed Jan 22; to be effective Feb 4, 2019

More info ---->

Bill 6-19, Bakeries in RC2

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: Richardson's Farm

Allows a bakery by Special Exception, with goods baked on premise sold only at retail on the premise. Effectively up-zones 140,000 acres of the County. Amended before passage to apply only to a bakery on an existing farm and in an existing structure.

This is intended to allow one at Richardson's Farms (see Zoning Case 2019-0411-X). The proper process would have been to change the zoning of this one parcel in the upcoming CZMP.

Introduced Mar 4, 2019; passed Apr 1; to be effective Apr 15

Bill 12-19, Basic Services

Sponsor: Bevins (amendment to Bill)
Benefits: CarMax property at 11301 Pulaski Hwy

An amendment to the Bill excluded one single property from the defined traffic shed where residential development would otherwise be restricted due to the "F" intersection at Pulaski and Ebenezer. The Bill contained a long legal description of this parcel copied from its deed. There has been a long ongoing fight over building a housing development here, so this amendment removes one of the impediments.

Bill introduced April 1, 2019; amendment made and Bill passed May 6

Bill 15-19, Convenience Stores

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: Royal Farms at 6434 Baltimore National Pike

This Bill weakens the requirements for parking at a specific, newly-defined type of convenience store - "a combined convenience store and carry-out restaurant", which seems to directly describe Royal Farms that provide take-out chicken. Although the originally introduced Bill addressed one that was combined with a carry-out restaurant, an amendment made at the final legislative session added "and fuel station". While the Bill sets a size limit of 6,000 sq ft, this is easily increased via variance. It contains the absurd statements that "there shall be no limits on the number of tables" (which the zoning case shows could be outdoors) and that "the number of tables shall not be used in a calculation of the required parking".

Strangely enough, after the motion to make the above mentioned amendment failed 3-4, Jones, who had voted "Yes", motioned to reconsider the vote, which passed. According to parliamentary procedure, only a person on the winning side of a vote can move to reconsider.

Zoning case 2019-0245-XA for this new store at 6434 Baltimore National Pike resulted in an Order on Apr 30, 2019. An attempt by Kach to amend this bill to prevent it from applying to this project failed. However, by rights, it should not have applied even without Kach's attempt.

Introduced Apr 15, 2019; passed May 23; effective June 5

Bill 26-19, Tea Rooms and Restaurants in RC4 Zones

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: citizens around Oregon Grill

This Bill intended to undo some of the uses allowed by a Special Exception issued in 2002 for the Oregon Grill, following a long legal battle by citizens to rein in the use, including the parking lot that the previous County administration allowed them to pave (on County property), contrary to previous agreements. It would have restricted the size, duration, and number of events such as wedding receptions and prohibited parking along Shawan Rd, Beaver Dam Rd, and Cuba Rd. It also would have limited the use of tents, outdoor music, and lights. With the lobbying that obviously occurred, and the Democratic-controlled Council, this Bill had no chance and was withdrawn.

Introduced May 6, 2019; withdrawn June 3

Bill 30-19, RC-3 Zones

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: Marie McBride

This bill is really stupid! It begins with a line right out of the existing BCZR: "The RC-3 classification may be applied only to land that lies beyond the URDL". It then adds 2 pages of text to describe conditions under which dwellings (single family and group) may be built on RC-3 inside the URDL, in accordance with existing provisions for DR 10.5.

Introduced June 3, 2019; withdrawn (see Bill 53-20)

More info ---->

Bill 31-19, Car Washes in ML

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: Timothy Engle, owner of Star Motel property, 9619 Pulaski Hwy

Allows a car wash, by special exception, in a planned industrial park of at least 25 acres in an IM or AS District, but not in the Hunt Valley/Timonium Master Plan Focus Area or outside the URDL. It was identified in the Work Session that this is specifically to allow a car-wash where the Star Motel is, and their lawyer testified that this legislation was to "clarify" the zoning regulations, as if they already allowed a car-wash and this was just to make it more clear.

Introduced June 3, 2019; approved July 1; effective July 15

Bill 47-19, Assisted-living Facilities in BL

Sponsor: Patoka
Benefits: 401 Reisterstown Road, LLC, now Healthy Life Adult Medical Day Center, LLC

Allows an assisted-living facility in BL, in addition to the already allowed BM and BR, as long as in the Pikesville Commercial Revitalization District. It appears that a project was started back in early 2019 for assisted living, adult daycare.

Campaign contribution 7/23/19 to Patoka, $1,000 from Daniel Ratner, Resident Agent of owner LLC.

Introduced Sept 16, 2019; approved Oct 21; effective Nov 4

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

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: New county recreation facility operated by Blue Ocean and Coppermine (a commercial enterprise)

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

This complicated Bill adds a whole section to the MD 43 District section of the BCZR to allow additional uses on DR2 or 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 or to "other properties"?)

The additional uses allowed are outdoor commercial recreational facilities, including things like outdoor spectator seating, lighted fields; living quarters; restaurants, retail, offices; etc.

Introduced Oct 7, 2019; approved Nov 3; effective Nov 18

More info ---->

Bill 63-19, Yoga and Meditation Studios (in RCC)

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: Probably Unique Scripts Customized Wellness Spa, 11100 Liberty Rd

This Bill allows Yoga and Meditation Studios (without treadmills or other fitness equipment) in RCC.

Introduced Nov 4, 2019; approved Dec 2; effective Dec 16

Bill 7-20, Zoning Regulations - ML Zone Use Regulations

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: some business along Franklin Square Dr

This Bill adds "including metal container assembly, finishing, and painting" to the list of things allowed in ML. This seems really strange, since the code already allows "manufacture or processing ... of articles made of sheet metal, light metal mesh, pipe, wire, rods, strips or other shapes or similar component parts." That should have allowed the desired use to make "metal containers".

If there was any question whether some particular product was within the scope of the existing list of allowable products, the proper procedure is to request a Special Hearing before the ALJ.

During testimony, Bevins stated that this Bill was to benefit a specific business, which makes it a violation of the Maryland Constitution, although it would apply to all ML in the County.

Introduced Feb 3, 2020; approved Mar 2; effective Mar 16

Bill 8-20, Uses Permitted in the Residence, Elevator 2 zone

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: citizens in East Towson

This Bill established additional restrictions on multifamily buildings in RAE2 zones that are:

  • within 500 ft of the Downtown Towson District
  • within bounds of a town center as approved by the Planning Board
The restrictions are on setbacks, height, and distance between windows and is intended to apply to a planned "affordable" housing project called Red Maple Place, between E Joppa Rd, E Pennsylvania Rd, Fairmount Ave, and McManus Way. This is the only undeveloped parcel that fits the criteria in the Bill.

See Sun article

See also Bill 107-20

Introduced Feb 3, 2020; approved Mar 2; effective Mar 16

Bill 12-20, Uses Permitted in Residential Office and Office Zones

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefitted: see details

This Bill allows a Class A or B office building containing an MVA licensed vehicle tag and title service office (without inventory except license plates) in RO, OR-1, and OR-2.

This Bill is confusing. A Class A or B Office building is allowed, by definition, in these zones. What this Bill is really doing is adding this specific use to the short list of the specific uses allowed in each zone.

Introduced Mar 2, 2020; approved April 6; effective April 20

More info ---->

Bill 21-20, Residential uses in BM zones

Sponsor: Marks

This would have allowed residential in BM provided that the development tract:

  • is at least 20 acres,
  • is in a Community Enhancement area and in a transect area designated T-5,
  • is interconnected by pedestrian sidewalks,
  • includes structured parking, and
  • includes a mix of employment, retail, and residential
Introduced Mar 15, 2020, withdrawn

Bill 53-20, RC-3 Zones

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: Marie McBride

This looks like a revision of Bill 30-19, but is still stupid! It begins with a line right out of the existing BCZR: "The RC-3 classification may be applied only to land that lies beyond the URDL". It then adds 2 pages of text to describe conditions under which dwellings (single family and group) may be built on RC-3 inside the URDL, in accordance with existing provisions for DR 10.5

Introduced May 4, 2020; approved June 1; effective June 15

More info ---->

Bill 68-20, Signs in RO

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: Leo's Garage, 14 Willow Ave.

This bill allows signs at a Service Garage that is already operating as a legal, non-conforming use in RO.

Introduced July 6, 2020; approved Aug 3; effective 45 days

More info ---->

Bill 69-20, Minor Automotive service in ML

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: All Quality Window Tint, 10989 Red Run Blvd, #114?

This bill allows a new category of automotive service in ML if in the Red Run employment corridor of the Owings Mills Growth Area. "Minor" means things such as window tinting, stereo installation, and detailing or cleaning by hand, all within a building.

Introduced July 6, 2020; approved Aug 3; effective 17 Aug

Bill 72-20, Solar Facilities

Sponsor: Crandell, Bevins
Benefits: Solar developers

This bill would negate any "downzoning" to prevent solar facilities, such as is under consideration in CZMP 2020 in District 3. There is no parcel in Crandell's or Bevin's districts that would be effected by this bill. It was solely intended to block Kach from taking action, under the practice of "Councilmanic Courtesy", to protect agricultural land in his district. Such a demonstration of Councilmanic discourtesy!

Introduced July 6, 2020; withdrawn

Bill 76-20, Medical facilities in ML

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: ?

This Bill provides a use by right on an "industrial park of at least 25a" zoned ML in "an IM District, or in combination of an AS and IM District" for a "medical facility for outpatient and/or overnight residential treatment of eating disorders and/or mood and anxiety disorders".

So, it means that it is allowed on land zoned ML AS or ML IM or both. (This use should have nothing to do with AS, which is "Automotive Service".)

Introduced Aug 3, 2020; approved Sept 8; effective Sept 21

Bill 77-20, Residential development in tracts adjacent to Honeygo Overlay District in BL

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: 3.62a parcel owned by The Shops of Perry Hall

This Bill allows age-restricted multi-family dwelling units on a tract if:

  • BL
  • adjacent to the H Overlay District
  • development tract includes property that is part of a planned shopping center approved before Jan 1, 2020.
This Bill is faulty since it bases an allowance not on the zoning of the actual underlying area, but that of some nearby area. This violates one of the basic rules of proper zoning.

Introduced Aug 3, 2020; extended on Sept 8; withdrawn - see 46-21

Resolution 80-20, Approve Review of Planned Unit Development - Gerst Farm

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: owners of Gerst Farm

48a site, single tax parcel, DR1 H, approved for 233 age-restricted, "dwelling units", more than a 4-fold increase in what the underlying zoning allows. Resolution notes that this is "a significant reduction in density from the PUD application that was initially submitted to" Marks, as if that is a plus. As is stated in the Resolution: "the property's current underlying zoning would not permit the proposed 233 single family attached units without utilization of the PUD process ..." ) Note that the restriction in this Resolution is not "233 single family units", it is 233 "dwelling units", which is something completely different. This would allow 310 1-bedroon units.

The community benefit seems to be a bikeway, 6a of wooded land, and $50,000 towards construction of a community amphitheater, just the type of things that every development should have to support anyway. Also, it will "achieve a development of substantially higher quality than a conventional development". Why don't we just prohibit "conventional developments" if this is so much better?

Bill 78-20, Facilities in Honeygo Overlay District

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: ?

This Bill provides allowances for the following in DR1 H on lots of no larger that 0.5 acre:

  • Blacksmith in western subarea (deleted at legislative session)
  • Barber shop or hair salon in eastern subarea

This bill (with a change of a significant part at the legislative session) also demonstrates a faulty process. Such significant amendment at the last minute should result in tabling of approval for another cycle to provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment at the next Work Session. Due to the procedure adopted by the Council (I testified against it) they have intentionally left citizens out of process.

Introduced Aug 3, 2020; approved Sept 8; effective Sept 21

More info ---->

Bill 104-20, Parking requirement for Cannabis facilities

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: ?

This bill allows a cannabis grower or processor to provide 50% of the required parking off site if they provide a shuttle to that off-site facility or if they are within 1000 ft of a light rail stop and the parking facility is also within 1000 ft of a light rail facility (which could be the same one).

It's hard to determine who is benefited since the location of cannabis facilities is kept secret from the public, as much as possible.

Introduced Oct 5; approved Nov 2; effective Nov 16

More info ---->

Resolution 112-20, Approve Review of Planned Unit Development - Magnolis Grove

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: Magnolia Grove Investments, LLC

This is a 10a site, zoned DR1, and will allow 58 single-family attached dwellings, or is it really 58 "dwelling units" (6 times the density allowed by underlying zoning). The community benefit is $50,000 to assist in funding traffic signals at Honeygo and Joppa View Elementary School (which the County can request but not compel to be installed. The traffic light will likely be required at the intersection of Magnolia/Honeygo, caused by this development. This is not an "age-restricted" development, thus, it impacts the schools. The resolution also contains some strange detailed provisions regarding the installation of a fence to prevent foot traffic to Torpoint Rd. So much for Marks' support for pedestrian and bicycle access! Without this, there seems to be no good walking path to Perry Hall Senior High School. This must be provided!

The Resolution is deficient in that it does not actually identify the parcel intended. It is understood to be the one at 8750 Magnolia Rd owned by Philip Rahnefeld, which is 10.0a

This PUD has been described by a very knowledgeable and respected person as "appalling and a travesty".

Introduced Oct 5, 2020; approved Nov 2

Bill 105-20, Parking Facilities in Liberty Road Revitalization District

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: Most likely Liberty-Milford Partnership, owner of "Millford Mill" shopping center

This Bill provides reduced parking requirements for restaurants of 5 per 1,000 sq ft (normal is 16) under the following conditions:

  • in the Liberty Road (east) revitalization district
  • west of I-695
  • located within a plan of development with a minimum of 20,000 sq ft of gross leasable area in the CCC District.

This bill is defective in that there is no district actually designated as "Liberty Road east". The Liberty Road CRD consists of 8 disjoint parts scattered along Liberty Rd. The east-most two parts are east of I-695. There are several areas of CCC west of I-695 in the part apparently referred to as "East" that could support 20,000 sq ft of leasable space at:

  • 8035-8067 Liberty Rd (Alko clothes store, which must be closing, where a parking variance for 182 spaces in lieu of 252 was denied in 1978 when it was a Bingo hall). Interestingly, part of the parking for this shopping center is outside of the CCC District, so it would be unclear how this reduced requirement would apply.
  • 3600-3808 Millford Mill Rd (a Giant where a parking variance for 284 spaces in lieu of 296 was granted). Certainly not being replaced with a restaurant.

Introduced Oct 19, 2020; approved Nov 16; effective Nov 30

Bill 106-20, Uses in BLR (and RO) in South Towson Design Review Area

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: ?

This bill, as originally introduced, would add, by right in BLR if also part of the South Towson Design Review Area, the following:

  • Music studio
  • Learning center
  • Yoga or fitness studio
  • Bowling alley
  • Veterinarian

See "more info" for changes made at the legislative session. It ended up also applying to RO zones and including lots of other uses, including a brewery.

This bill is defective in that it establishes a legislative allowance (by a Bill) in an area that may be changed by resolution actions (area of Design Review Area). Further, it was amended to include provisions outside the original purpose of the introduced legislation.

Citizens who might be impacted by the extra allowances added at the legislative session, without warning, were deprived of the opportunity to object. This violates our Charter.

Also, it is stated as being effective before it was passed.

Although the minutes show that consideration of the Bill was extended (tabled) by vote at the Nov 16 meeting, no amendments were made at that meeting, so it is unknown why approval was delayed.

Introduced Oct 19, 2020; tabled Nov 16; approved Dec 7; effective Nov 30

More info ---->

Bill 107-20, Building height in RAE2 zones in downtown Towson

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: Citizens
Disadvantages: Red Maple Place

See also Bill 8-20.

This bill establishes an additional criteria for multifamily building height of 30ft in RAE2 if within 500 ft of the Downtown Towson (DT) District. It also prohibits variances. At present, there are only a few parcels that meet this criteria - the south corner of Fairmount Ave/Bosley Ave (already developed) and the se corner of E Joppa Rd/Fairmount Ave (available for development).

See Article about how it would kill a planned housing project.

See Zoning/Development Plan case 2020-0267-A.

Introduced Oct 19, 2020; failed Nov 16 (with 3 members abstaining and 1 "No")

More info ---->

Bill 115-20, Allowing ground floor apartments in BM CT

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: Owners of parcel(s) in defined area

This bill allows ground floor apartments in BM CT in a specific area bounded by:

  • north of Lakeside Blvd
  • west of Painters Mill Rd
  • south of I-795
  • east of Owings Mills Blvd
(This is basically the old Owings Mills Mall site and adds to a similar allowance at Hunt Valley Mall passed several years ago in Bill 35-19.)

This Bill is faulty since it bases allowable uses on an area bounded by specific roads rather then simply on the underlying zoning.

Introduced Nov 2, 2020; approved Dec 7; effective Dec 21

Bill 6-21, Uses permitted in BL

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: ? (still looking)

This Bill allows a carwash in BL by right if:

  • within 100 ft of an AS district,
  • no closer than 250 ft from existing residential dwelling in DR or RC,
  • in Rolling Road-Windsor Mill Commercial Revitalization District (created by Res 17-21, introduced 1 Feb, 2021, passed and effective 16 Feb)
  • subject to provisions of 419
Of course, this legislation is faulty in that it allows a use based on its proximity to a specific zone or district where the use is allowed. By the time this 100 ft and the 250 ft requirements are applied, there is very little left where this special allowance is even valid. Most of the area is within the r/w of the two main roads. The only parcel that even partially meets these criteria seems to be part of the one at 3044 Rolling Rd, not enough to build a carwash.

Taking a little tour of this area on GoogleEarth shows that it is in serious need of cleaning up. An easy (and free) start would be to force total compliance with the County's Sign Code.

Introduced Feb 1, 2021; passed Feb 16; affective Mar 9

Bill 8-21, Allowing Cleaning and Restoration Business in CB in Perry Hall CRD

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: Tropea Restoration at 8822 Belair Rd

The Bill was initially introduced to apply to all Commercial Revitalization Districts, but was then limited to Perry Hall. Apparently, some other Council members were leery of allowing this use in "their" areas.

This Bill is defective since it is dependent on a Commercial Revitalization District that is created and modifed by Resolution. Interestingly, the garage at the back of this property which they are obviously using as a part of this business is not completely in the CB zone, but in the adjacent DR1. It's typical that such "commercial" zones go back only 250 ft from the center line of the main road.

This is another good example of what's wrong with our Zoning Regulations; they need to be modified for every new business that come along if it isn't explicitly included in the existing list. The existing list includes "repair and rental of small appliances, video rentals."

Introduced Jan 19, 2021; passed Feb 16; effective Mar 9

Bill 32-21, Basic Services

Sponsor: Bevins, Marks (amendments to Bill)
Benefits: CarMax property at 11301 Pulaski Hwy and Blakehurst Life Care at 1055 W Joppa

Amendments to the Bill were made to exclude specific properties from the defined traffic sheds to allow development where the traffic sheds, as drawn by Public Works, would restrict developments:

  • The CarMax property where residential development would otherwise be restricted due to the "F" intersection at Pulaski and Ebenezer (same as in Bill 12-19). There has been a long ongoing fight over building a housing development here, so this amendment removes one of the impediments.
  • A parcel on W Joppa Rd owned by Chestnut Real Estate Partnership used for the Mission Helpers or Blakehurst as a continuing care facility to remove it from the traffic shed created by the "F" intersection at Charles and Belona & Kenilworth.

It should also be noted that neither the proposed maps nor the planned amendments were not made available online prior to their approval, thus denying citizens the opportunity to review them. The Code requires that copies be available at libraries, which were closed.

Bill introduced April 5, 2021; amendments made and Bill passed May 3; effective May 17
(Note: As of May 23, 2021, copies of the new maps had not yet been posted online, in spite of a promise a month earlier that they would be.)

Bill 44-21, Multi-Family Residential Uses in ML

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: (obviously) Quality Inn Extended Stay 10710 Beaver Dam Rd

This Bill allows multi-family residential uses in ML (by right) if:

  • property was previously used as an extended stay hotel
  • within Hunt Valley/Timonium Master Plan Focus area (apparently meaning as defined in the 1998 Master Plan - basically between I-83 and York Rd, north of Ridegely to include Hunt Valley Mall.)
  • within 1000 ft of a commuter light-rail station
  • at least 1,000 ft from a residential zone
  • number of residential units limited to number of existing suites (changed to 96 at final session)

A search indicates that there is only one facility that complies with these conditions. (How "special" can you get!)

Of course, this legislation is faulty by being conditional on a previous use, while there is no required hearing or process to adjudicate that "condition".
Come to think of it, it's kind of bizarre to restrict a residential use based on being too close to another residential zone.

One can bet that, once this is approved, the developer will come forward with requests for variances (to size, parking, open space, setbacks, etc.)

Introduced Apr 19, 2021; passed May 27; affective June 9

More info ---->

Bill 46-21, Residential Development Proposals in BL - Adjacent to the Honeygo Overlay District

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: 3.62a parcel owned by The Shops of Perry Hall

This Bill is a revision of 77-20 which was withdrawn before the 21 Sept 2020 meeting.

This Bill allows age restricted single-family attached dwelling units if:

  • tract is adjacent to the H overlay district
  • any portion of tract is part of planned shopping center approved prior to Jan 1, 2021
And development shall be according to the following:
  • 55 or over and under 18 not allowed (but condo association may permit 18-55 to care for elderly)
  • setbacks for commercial in 232
  • maximum of 3 stories, 2 for units directly fronting on public road
  • maximum density 16 dwelling units per acre on a maximum of 4 acres
  • approved by b(2) limited exemption
  • maximum units in a group is 7
  • shall comply with Honeygo building and site design standards in §259.9.C.5
  • exempt from BCC §32-6-111.

This Bill is defective in that it bases the allowable uses on a nearby district designation, rather than that of the actual underlying zoning. While it is obviously intended to apply to a specific parcel, no description or map is provided (probably since that would prove that the Bill is illegal). The proper way to do this is to put this parcel into the next CZMP to change the zoning from BL to DR16.

See article here.

Introduced Apr 19, 2021; passed May 27; effective June 9

More info ---->

Resolution 47-21, Approve Review of Planned Unit Development

Sponsor: Patoka
Benefits: Woodholme Country Club

Although this is technically not a special bill, I am listing it here to highlight the problem with these. As titled, it is to approve a "review", that is, allows the County staff to examine the plan and decide whether or not it should be approved. However, it has been obvious for years that county staff treats these as "already approved by the Council", so they cannot object. Once the Resolution is passed, it's pretty much a done deal.

In this case, the PUD is for a 2 acre part of Woodholme Country Club which the Club wants to "lease" for a bank. As the Resolution notes, it is currently zoned Residential and the purpose of the PUD is to get around the use and density limits imposed by the zoning.

During CZMP 2020, this was part of Issue 2-018 which sought BM AS zoning for 5.38a. Due to community objection, the upzoning was not granted. This PUD is an end-run around that denial.

This Resolution was also defective since no actual description or map of the 2a parcel was available.

Introduced Apr 5, 2021; passed May 3

More info ---->

Resolution 67-21, Establishing Honeygo Gateway Commercial Revitalization District (Map)

Sponsor: Marks
Benefits: The Shops at Perry Hall, LLC

Although not technically a "Special Bill", I am listing it here since it has the effect of a zoning Bill. It creates a CRD consisting of about 16 acres on a half dozen parcels, mostly under the ownership of The Shops at Perry Hall, LLC, which is already developing the majority of this area, thus, there is no need for "revitalization". The area is a combination of BL, BL AS, CB, BL, and some DR3.5 H. Of course, designating a residential area as "Commercial Revitalization" is absurd, as is designating a large vacant field.

Creating this CRD is really a zoning change because of other bills that already expanded allowable uses based on being in a CRD. For example, Bill 36-13 could allow commercial parking on the residential part.

It is an established purpose that CRDs are intended to help older commercial corridors, never a single property or vacant lot. In this case, the designation would allow the developer of this vacant land to obtain a 5- or 10-year tax credit if the project costs exceed $10 million, even though no "revitalization" is being done. Further, it is the Planning Department that should be recommending the creation of a new District. Looks like our Councilman really got suckered into this one.

This Resolution should be reviewed along with Bill 46-21. The map was revised by amendment at the final session (to add the non-contiguous BGE property) without being made available to citizens. This is clearly improper and should be prohibited. I can't imagine how the BGE property would be eligible for, or need, "revitalization".

See article here.

Introduced May 3, 2021; passed May 27

Bill 62-21, Residential Development Proposals - Existing Golf and Country Clubs in RC4

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: Hillendale Country Club

This Bill allows an additional subdivision for 2 residential lots if:
  • a tract of more than 125a
  • subject to pre-existing Special Exception for a golf course
  • in RC4
  • any part located within 8,000 ft of Jacksonville commercial center
The Hillendale Country Club is:
  • 322a
  • approved in 1989 as golf course
  • all RC4
  • 5430 ft from center of Jacksonville
It is for one "club", not multiple as implied by the title.

The resulting 2 lots are not subject to the performance standards in BCZR 1A03.5 for RC4 (which was the very reason that the RC4 zone was created).

Introduced June 7, 2021; passed July 6; effective July 21

Bill 58-21, Planned Unit Developments

Sponsor: Marks, Bevins, Jones
Benefits: ?

This Bill itself is not a "Special Law" as it does not address a specific property, but it can be presumed that it will be followed up by a Resolution to begin the PUD process for a specific property as allowed by these changes. It is confusing but seems to allow:

  • a PUD to exceed the density allowed in the underlying residential zone (see 32-4-242(d)(2)
  • avoid any requirement of the Master Plan

(Note: It's a little hard to understand for sure what changes are in the bill since the practice is to indicate additions by CAPITALS, which doesn't work well when the addition is a Section number (e.g. 32-4-242(D)(2)).) It's about time the Council procedures move beyond the days of legislation prepared by typewriter!

Introduced June 7, 2021; passed July 6; effective July 21

More info ---->

Bill 73-21, Residential Use in BL

Sponsor: Patoka
Benefits: Garrison Properties, LLC and neighboring Garrison School

This Bill allows a "2 over 2" condo for residential use in BL by Special Exception if the tract is:

  • inside the URDL
  • primarily zoned BL as of Jan 1, 2021
  • has a portion of its boundaries adjacent to a private, independent educational facility
  • abutting DR16
  • is part of a planned shopping center approved prior to Jan 1, 2021.

This is the property behind 9915 Reisterstown Rd, owned by Garrison Properties, LLC. which is mostly BL and is adjacent to DR16 and the Fort Garrison School. (Not sure if the recent development plan process was to approve a shopping center.)

Introduced July 6, 2021; passed Aug 2; effective Aug 16

More info ---->

Bill 75-21, Animal care (Kennels) in BM

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: Sit Means Sit Dog Training at 10912 York Rd

This Bill allows a Commercial Kennel if:

  • located in IM District
  • located in Hunt Valley/Timonium Master plan area
and with the following restrictions:
  • outdoor space not used 9pm-6am
  • no closer than 500 ft from residential use except can be 100 ft if across ("from") Major Collector Road

This Bill is defective. See details.

Introduced July 6, 2021; passed Aug 2; effective Aug 16

More info ---->

Bill 77-21, Limited Exemptions - Minor Subdivisions

Sponsor: Jones
Benefits: unknown

This Bill would have redefined the size of a residential subdivision that would be allowed a b5 Limited Exemption to be 5 parcels instead of the current 4. A change such as this should only be done based on a recommendation from the Planning Board, following public hearings and input.

While the change did not actually change the definitions of "minor" and "major" subdivisions, it would most likely eventually lead to that.

At the Work Session, Jones stated that he "forgot" to include a provision that this increase from 3 to 5 would not apply outside the URDL. The Bill was then withdrawn, obviously due to public pressure.

Bill 85-21, Permitting hospital in ML

Sponsor: Quirk
Benefits: unknown

This Bill allows a "hospital" in ML, but limited to 20 beds (a rather strange limit for a real hospital). It appears to categorize a hospital as a "quasi-public use".

(The Council might as well pass one simple Bill saying that everything allowed in any other zone is allowed in ML and allow for the complete destruction of areas that might provide for any resurgence of manufacturing - which is really the only use that brings money into the County. That would be a lot easier.)

Introduced Sept 20, 2021; passed Oct 18; effective Nov 1

Bill 95-21, Allowing winery in BL

Sponsor: Kach
Benefits: Weber's Cider Mill Farm

This Bill allows, by right, a winery in BL if:

This Bill further allows temporary promotional events, such as product tastings or public gatherings associated with the winery's hard cider "subject to special hearing approval by the ALJ".

Weber's Cider Farm website says that they have been making cider since 1947. It is a small island of BL surrounded by residential.

Introduced Oct 18, 2021; passed Nov 15; effective Nov 29

More info ---->

Bill 110-21, Signs in DR5.5

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: ?

This Bill allows a Joint Identification sign in DR5.5 if:

  • On property used for commercial (apparently as a "legal non-conforming use")
  • If that property also includes MLR and ML zoning
  • Located within 1 mile of the Cowenton-Ebenezer Commercial Revitalization District
It also allows an adjacent property, not necessarily under the same ownership, to co-locate on a new or existing sign on the property of the permitted sign. It isn't clear whether this particular allowance is limited to areas (either that of the sign or of the adjacent property) within DR5.5.

It appears that this bill would apply to the properties from 11129 to 11219 Philadelphia Rd which have a 100ft strip of DR5.5 in the front (where the sign would be located), a 175ft strip of MLR behind that, and ML in the back half of each lot.

As with other bills, this bill is defective since it uses the Revitalization District designation as the basis for allowable uses.

Introduced Dec 20, 2021; passed Jan 18, 2022; effective Jan 31

Bill 111-21, Uses in ML - Vet office

Sponsor: Bevins
Benefits: ?

This Bill would have allowed a veterinarian office by right in ML within Middle River Redevelopment area as designated in the Master Plan 2020.

Introduced Dec 20, 2021; withdrawn Jan 18, 2022

Bill 10-22, Uses in BM, Brewery

Sponsor: Patoka
Benefits: 6086 - 6092 Falls Rd

This Bill allows a Brewery, Class 7 if:

You can't get much more specific than that!

It's not clear what "furthest pedestrian access" refers to. Furthest from what? The "furthest" access seems to be the begin of the boardwalk into and through Lake Roland Park, which has no "access" to anything on the west side of Falls Road, except back through the Light Rail parking lot. The only BM area here is 5 parcels along the 6086-6092 area of Falls Rd. Time will tell.

Introduced Feb 22, 2022; passed Mar 21; effective Apr 4

Bill 13-22, Uses in BL, Food Prep

Sponsor: Marks, Kach, Bevins
Benefits: Pappas Seafood at 8801 Belair Rd

This Bill allows a food preparation and shipping plant (crab-cakes) if:

  • in Perry Hall Commercial Revitalization District
  • no on-site restaurant or carry out (although, strangely, a "standard restaurant, a fast-food restaurant and a carry-out restaurant are otherwise allowed in BL prior to this legislation).
Thus, this legislation is defective as this new provision in subparagraph 9 is contradictory with the existing subparagraph 4.

The currently defined ML Zoning allows "food products manufacture", so the proper way to handle this is to rezone this property (during the next CZMP) from BL to ML (which would be an inappropriate change). This Pappa's facility should have been planned in an existing ML district. Of course, the County Council has spent the past decade destroying the county's supply of ML land through actual rezonings or through the pseudo zoning actions as identified in the Special Bills detailed here.

See newspaper article

Introduced Feb 22, 2022; passed Mar 21; effective Apr 4

Bill 41-22, Notification of Development Fee Waiver

Introduced by: Administration Benefits: Some privileged developers

This bill allows the Administrative Officer (obviously at the direction of the County Executive) to waive fees for certain projects (developers) based on undefined criteria. It was admitted that the Bill was a direct result of the recent IG report which found that one developer of Metro Station was incorrectly (and probably illegally) allowed a waiver which continued under two administrations (and was obviously one of the main reasons for the Director of PAI quitting). At the June 6 meeting, the vote on this Bill was delayed until July 5.

Introduced May 2 2022; passed ?; effective days

More info ---->

Bill 47-22, Used Auto sales in BM

Introduced by: Bevins
Benefits: Several parcels along Mohrs Rd (to become Campbell Blvd) between Philadelphia Rd and Pulaski Hwy.

This bill adds an allowance for a used auto sales lot in BM only if within one mile of the Middle River Design Review Panel Area. This is problematic since such Design Review Areas are created and modified by Resolutions, not Bills. (The same problem with many described above.) Further, since the allowance contains a condition (within one mile) there needs to be an open process by which such a condition is validated. The only way to do this is to make the use "by Special Exception" to require a hearing. (This is the same problem as many others places in the Zoning Regulations especially many of the changes in "Special Laws" as detailed above.)

They will argue that this is, technically, not a "Special Law" as prohibited in the MD Constitution since it does not apply to just one property. (The same as they ridiculously argued for Bills 2-14 and 53-15, although no one could point to a second property that meets the conditions.

Introduced June 6, 2022; passed ?; effective ?

More info ---->

Resolution 26-22, Modification of Solid Waste Management Plan

Introduced by: County Executive
Benefits: Eagle Transfer Services, Inc.

This Resolution modifies the County's Solid Waste Management Plan by adding a solid waste acceptance facility or disposal system which explicitly references "Eagle Transfer Station" to provide this. In fact, the company is Eagle Transfer Services, Inc. This follows a revelation that this company's owner and multiple people associated with it made large campaign contributions to Johhny Olszewski at a private party on June 12, 2021 after which he pushed his staff to approve their plan after they had rejected it as unneeded. (It may be that, in making these contributions, they exceeded the $6,000 limit.)

See here and here

The current 10-year plan, as required by the state, was approved in December 2018 in Resolution 113-18.

It is obviously highly irregular, and maybe illegal, for such legislation and Plan to explicitly call out a specific business. One would expect the Plan to include some function (a transfer station), and then an open bidding process would select the vendor.

A further problem, is that the legislation refers to an amendment to the Plan, but does not include a copy of the amendment or a reference (link) to where it can be found. Only that a copy will be submitted to the Maryland Department of the Environment. One could only hope that they would reject it.

Introduced Jun 6, 2022; passed ?; effective immediately


Here as a tabulation of how many special bills each council member sponsored (that passed) and who benefitted from them:

DistCouncil memberYears servedBenefits

1. "Benefit developers" means adds allowable uses to one or more parcels to benefit the property owner, even though many might believe that the result benefits citizens in general.
2. "Benefit citizens" means benefitting neighboring residents by restricting uses on one or more parcels.

See here for Baltimore Sun Aug 9, 2021 article on the subject (which references this list).

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Updated 3 July 2022