September 13, 2022
The Honorable Mel Franklin
Chair, Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee
Wayne K. Curry Administration Building
1301 McCormick Drive, 2nd Floor
Largo, MD 20774
RE: Oppose CB-78-2022, split-zoned properties allowed to use higher intensity zone
Dear Chairman Franklin and members of the Committee:
Please accept this letter on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG). CSG is the leading non-profit organization in the Washington, D.C. region, including suburban Maryland, dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish.
We participated in the extensive process to create a new zoning code, following Plan 2035. We are dismayed after so much careful work and public engagement, that a set of bills are being rushed through the Council to dismantle the new zoning code. Fast-tracking these zoning bills (including CB-69, 77, 78, 91, 92) not only devalues residents’ participation in the 8-year process that created the new code, it also undermines efforts to attract high-quality transit-oriented development.
Specifically regarding CB-78: This legislation enables more than 1,000 split-zoned properties to automatically use the more intense zone as well as the allowed uses in that higher intensity zone. Note that in some cases, a property is split into more than two zones.
We agree with the Planning Board’s assessment that:
“Any global effort to legislatively retrofit split-zoned properties is likely to create substantial compatibility problems that prior Councils have made conscious zoning decisions to prevent or alleviate. Without a case-by-case analysis of the County’s split-zoned properties, the Planning Board believes this bill will foster numerous incompatible uses throughout the County.”
For example, a large property might have both an industrial zone and a residential zone. This bill would permit a potentially incompatible industrial use adjacent to residential neighborhood.
This CB 78 is ill advised and could harm communities. The Council should work with the planning staff to conduct a careful assessment to address appropriate rezoning of a specific split-zoned property. We ask the committee not advance this bill.
Thank you for your consideration.