Testimony: Oppose CB-78, split-zoned properties allowed use of higher intensity zone

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. 

Cheryl Cort