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Change For The Benefit Of One

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When I moved to my current residence on McDaniel Avenue in Rosedale, I thought I now occupied a slice of country in the midst of a multitude of businesses. And that lasted for six whole years. McDaniel Avenue is the street of 7 residences (zoned DR5.5) surrounded by commercial enterprises (zoned RO, BLAS and MLIM) off of Golden Ring Road and East Philadelphia Road (Rte 7), between the Exxon Service Station and Rosedale Post Office.

After several of my neighbors moved on, and their homes were sold, the property use remained residential. In late 2013 the house directly opposite mine became a residential rental used as an assisted living facility. Other than the increased bus/van traffic associated with that operation, they were pleasant neighbors.

In late 2015, the owner of the property rented as an assisted living facility requested a zoning change encompassing his two parcels on Philadelphia Road (zoned RO) and his adjoining residence on McDaniel Avenue (zoned DR5.5) to all be BL (Business, Local). At the Baltimore County Department of Planning Public Hearing for zoning issues held for District 7 on 03/31/16, I opposed the zoning request. Based on information I had received, I felt my speaking at the hearing would be sufficient to express my and my neighbors concerns. Although my protest was well –received, I later discovered that my opposition of the zoning request went for naught.

The tenant operating the assisted living moved in early 2018. In October, 2018, the activity at that property made me realize that the zoning was really now BL. Picture a parade of vehicles including huge, gravel-filled dump trucks riding down a 16’ wide asphalt covered “driveway-of-a-road” to build a rear parking lot and a new front driveway at this new “business” location. I seriously wondered if McDaniel Avenue could continue to be usable without repaving it afterwards.

My flurry of telephone calls to Baltimore County Zoning, Code Enforcement and County Council got some results. The bad news was that the zoning requested had been approved; the good news was that there was an attached restriction. The owner was to maintain a 20’ wide “buffer” strip (zoned DR5.5) with the “intent” to prohibit truck/commercial traffic onto McDaniel Avenue. And McDaniel Avenue was not built for the increased amount of traffic it would now receive.

Previously, while the property was used as an Assisted Living Facility, there was increased traffic, but not the amount of or type traffic generated by an active service business. The property owner was supposed to provide access to Philadelphia Road for all truck commercial traffic for that location. The owner did not and has not complied with that restriction to this date.

Now, here we are with another zoning request from the same owner (through a different LLC) asking for zoning change for not only the same three parcels (2.1 acres) as before, but others that he does not own or have an interest in (another 1.4 acres). The request covers about 3.5 acres total, and the zoning requested is BLA5 (Business, Local-Automotive Services) which permits uses such as Gasoline/Service Station, Automotive Parts Store and Auto Salvage Yard. How do you think that might affect this residential street – McDaniel Avenue?

I do not object to change or progress, but it should be for the benefit of the majority – and certainly for the owners of the property involved/affected. Ideally, you might refer to the desired result as a win-win situation. No one has pointed out the “WIN” part for the owners on McDaniel Avenue. The “WIN” appears to be for the one person requesting the zoning change. (Hence my title for this article).

My neighbors and I are opposing this zoning change 2020 CZMP Issue 7-008. I hope by this article that other residents that notice any future zoning hearing postings be aware of/do the following:

The Baltimore County Code permits a comprehensive zoning map process (CZMP) every four (4) years, allowing any person to ask for any zoning classification on any property. (Why and how that came about I have no idea.)

Become thoroughly familiar with the Baltimore County Department of Planning website: to understand the process, time frame, etc.

Obtain consensus of your neighbors and local Community Association. (There is strength in numbers.)

Share information and select a chairperson (if appropriate), contact the party requesting the zoning change, call, and/or petition and be present for meetings/hearings to express concerns and/or opposition (with some reasoning). Note: personal expression is more forceful than written.

In 2016, I was busy with work, etc. and did only what I thought was necessary to oppose a zoning request. I’ve learned not to be guided by those without a shared goal. Thanks for reading and being informed.

In summary, my neighbors and I are hoping that the Planning Board realizes that granting a zoning request to an owner who does not abide by the conditions of a prior zoning request approval does not act responsibly business-wise.

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