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Downzoning Decisions Will Lighten Future School Overcrowding

I used my power as a County Councilman to reshape the zoning in the Fifth District so future development has a lighter and better impact on our schools.

On Tuesday, August 28, the Baltimore County Council adopted my rezoning recommendations in the Fifth District.   The recommendations lower the future development potential of 417 acres.  Of the acreage that changed during the  rezoning cycle, 95 percent was lowered in development potential, which means fewer new homes throughout the Fifth District.

Some of these changes were opposed by developers and landowners, but it is critical for Baltimore County to anticipate the future growth that could occur on undeveloped land.   

In Towson and Loch Raven, we lightened the impact of future development on 67 acres, the largest change ever adopted in this area.   Some of the rezoning affects community parks and a city-owned reservoir, but the most substantial rezoning affected the Mount Pleasant Golf Course.   The old zoning allowed hundreds of apartments or townhouses to be built at the Mount Pleasant Golf Course if the city ever sold the property for development.  The new zoning prohibits any new development by designating the 38 acres as open space. 

The county has poured millions of dollars into Towson’s schools, which are overcrowded largely due to demographic changes.  I don’t want overdevelopment making the situation even worse.

In Carney and Parkville, we downzoned 87 acres, including 67 acres in the Cromwell Valley.  I also recommended downzoning undeveloped properties near Northwind Road and Magledt Road.  By lightening the zoning, we prevented the impact of growth on Carney and Harford Hills Elementary Schools, Pine Grove Middle School, and Loch Raven High School.

The Council downzoned 263 acres in the Perry Hall area,.   This is one of the biggest chunks of undeveloped land in Perry Hall.   I believe that without the rezoning change, builders would have proceeded with plans to erect dozens of new homes here over the next two decade, maybe even sooner.   

I have advocated for more and better schools for the past 15 years, both as President of the Perry Hall Improvement Association and as President of the school system’s Northeast Educational Advisory Council.  In my mind, the county should unquestionably have purchased land for new schools when money was more plentiful.  During these tight times, our options are more limited. 

Recognizing these limitations, I used my power as a County Councilman to reshape the zoning in the Fifth District to make sure that future development has a lighter and better impact on our schools. 

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Tim September 18, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Well done, David. It's not a perfect solution for anyone, but it's the most logical short term solution to attack the problem that's only now having attention brought to it (too late!) This county is in fairly rough shape with public education infrastructure - between the air conditioning issues and overpopulation (at least in our district....PH folks need to remember overpopulation is not a situation unique to Perry Hall High). The longer term requires more middle and high schools built. A second Perry Hall/White Marsh middle and corresponding high school. I suspect another high school for Towson/Timonium area as well to alleviate pressure on Dulaney. Others in that area could give a better assessment on that side of the district, I'm sure.
Get Real September 18, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Wow. I'm sure the dead bodies in the newly down zoned cemetaries, the tad poles in the newly down zoned reservoir, the squirrels in the newly down zoned storm drains, and the gophers in the newly down zoned golf course are relieved that councilman marks saved the day!
David Marks September 18, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Calm Down/Get Real, I'm sure the children at the schools impacted by the possible development at the parcels I specifically described in the article will be very happy by my downzoning decisions.
Steve Redmer September 18, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Good job in general...However I refuse to celebrate the down-zoning of private property without the consent of the property owners... those individuals have been robbed by the government, without compensation...

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