A bill that, in part, would have allowed Planned Unit Developments in some rural areas of the county went too far, according to Councilwoman Cathy Bevins.
The bill, sponsored by Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican, and co-sponsored by Councilman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat, made a number of changes to the county law, including allowing PUDs on properties outside the Urban-Rural Demarcation line as long as the property was served in part by water and sewer.
Bevins on Monday night sponsored an amendment to strip out that provision—one that specifically affected the proposed development of a marina in her district in Bowleys Quarters.
The council approved Bevins' amendment by a vote of 6-0 with Councilman Ken Oliver abstaining.
Prior to the vote, Bevins read the following statement into the record:
I believe in smart growth and development and reinvesting in our communities—especially in our older neighborhoods and along the waterfront. And Baltimore County has several tools, which control development and land use.
The zoning regulations and department regulations are some of those tools and it is not uncommon for them to be revised from time to time. And this is one of our roles as legislators.
In fact, in the past 18 months, the council has passed quite a few bills to revamp the PUD process. Most of the changes have been very community friendly, opening the process to more community input and leading to a better product in the end.
I believe many of the sections of this bill will lead to better and more efficient development control. But others have caused a lot of concerns for residents in my district. I think we need to be adaptive to our land use controls and Baltimore County has been a model for other jurisdictions.
But for me, the provisions of Bill 42-12 that would allow PUDS outside the URDL anywhere where public water and sewer exists simply goes too far.
The provisions would impact certain rural areas outside the URDL where public services might be intended in the future for health and safety reasons. Therefore, I am asking my colleagues to support the amendment to take out the exception.
Following Bevins statement, Quirk praised his colleague for seeking to remove the portion of the bill and protect rural areas of the county.
Bevins' amendment came a week after Councilman Ken Oliver raised issues about allowing the development in rural areas.
During that work session, Oliver was the only council member to question the bill.
Oliver abstained from voting on the amendment and the bill. After the vote, Oliver expressed concerns about the bill and Bevins lack of involvement, given the effect on her district.
In an interview Monday, Bevins said she had not had a chance to read the bill before the work session and responded immediately once she realized the effect on the Bowleys Quarters project.
The portion of the bill that Bevins removed was written by lawyers for the Towson-firm of Smith, Gildea and Schmidt—attorneys representing the owner of the Bowleys Quarters marina who wants permision to build a 36-unit condominium project on his Galloway Creek property.
Opponents of the provision said it would have prevented a community group from appealing a May 29 Board of Appeals decision that allows the project to move forward.
Michael Paul Smith is the son of former County Executive Jim Smith. Gildea served as a law clerk to Jim Smith during his time as a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge.
Jim Smith, who also works for the firm, in 2010 transferred $129,000 in cash from his own campaign to Bevins, Quirk and Ben Sutley, another Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for the council.