[Baltimore Sun] Jessup, Hanover residents raise concerns with comprehensive rezoning plan

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Jessup and Hanover residents are voicing concerns about a comprehensive rezoning proposal, saying it will increase housing density, causing traffic and environmental problems.

Numerous upzoning recommendations were made for the region, leading to fears that changes could disrupt the quaint nature of the community.

“When you start putting people on top of people on top of people, you get crime. When you congest the road, there’s no plan to widen that road, the community has to sit in traffic,” Georgie Mauler, a 70-year Jessup resident, said at the Anne Arundel County Council meeting Monday night. “It’s dysfunctional.”

This discussion is the beginning of the county’s once-in-a-decade comprehensive rezoning process. Led by the Office of Planning and Zoning, this process requires the County Council to approve a zoning map for each county region. Regions are similar to council districts but there are nine rather than seven.

Last month the council started reviewing proposed changes to Region 7, which includes Annapolis. The council had three applications for zoning change requests, according to the county’s database. In Region 2, however, which includes Jessup and Hanover, property owners submitted about 15 zoning change requests to the council.

The planning office also recommended about 25 zoning changes, some of which raised concerns among property owners. Now County Council member Pete Smith, a Severn Democrat who represents the area, will spend the coming months attempting to meet the needs of both individual residents and neighborhoods in need of housing, particularly affordable housing.

“There is a balance between what a community wants and what an individual landowner wants,” Smith said. “I’ve tried my best to find that balance.”

Draft plans for these regions are created by the planning and zoning office with input from the region’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee and the county’s Planning Advisory Board

 

According to the Region 2 Plan, the committee agreed that transportation options in the area — including the Jessup MARC station and Route 175 — are not being used to their fullest potential. The committee envisions adding mixed-use zoning and two- to three-story buildings in the long term, it noted in the plan.

Christina Pompa, the county’s deputy planning and zoning officer, said the office and local groups looked at various issues when making recommendations. Two major considerations were how land use has changed since the last rezoning process and what kind of housing is lacking.

“We’re underdeveloped in our targeted growth areas. So, then you turn those challenges into opportunities,” Pompa said Wednesday. “We did look for places where we could add some density to try and chip away at the insufficient housing capacity for the region.”

Residents in Region 2 noted that adding density will affect those who occupy those properties in areas that are struggling to manage environmental issues. Stormwater management is a major problem that some fear would be exacerbated if more homes were built, leading to more impervious surfaces and less green space.

“Compromises [are] often made in the hall of places like this, but the compromises that are made here are pushed onto the residents when they have to pay out of pocket with their insurance and other ways to pay for the flooding that’s happening on their properties,” said Carroll Little, of Hanover, representing the Waterbury Forest Homeowners Association.

Smith said he’d been going door to door over the past three weeks and will continue meeting with residents as the plan is finalized over the next few months.

“I’m certainly aware of the impact in the community of these types of activities,” Smith said. “I do think it’s important to have that conversation.”

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