The business of local government continues, even as COVID-19 has disrupted government operations as it has everyone else. One process that continues is the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP).
As your Councilman, I have decision making authority regarding CZMP issues. It is a responsibility I take seriously. CZMP issue 7-015, the Fort Howard VA property – a source of confusion and mistrust for over a decade – was filed by the current lease holders. They request a zoning change allowing for hundreds of dwelling units.
In 2014, I promised to protect Fort Howard. I first rejected the huge development plan created before I took office. I told developers and the VA to go back to the drawing board to craft a veterans-focused project the community could get behind.
The VA failed to grasp the importance of community support, and a smaller, veterans-focused project was not produced, even though I passed legislation that would specifically allow a veterans only development. More discussions took place, but each approach included massive housing density despite my protests and those of the community. During the 2016 CZMP, I down-zoned Fort Howard to protect the peninsula and ensure none of these plans could be executed.
That CZMP process occurs every 4 years, and we are in the middle of the 2020 CZMP cycle. The current lease holders of Ft. Howard request that I restore the pre-2016 zoning, allowing for a high-density development and an approval process with less community input than we have now. I have no intentions of honoring the developer’s request and am inclined to keep the restrictive zoning I placed on it four years ago.
The CZMP process and timeline is mandated by our county charter; it cannot be changed, delayed, or rescheduled. The Planning Board hearings that were to be held last month were cancelled due to the pandemic. The Planning Board sought input and testimony by other means. It’s important to remember that I have the final say in these zoning decisions when the entire Council votes on August 25th. The Planning Board simply makes a zoning classification recommendation that is sent to the Council for consideration.
On June 23rd, the Council is scheduled to hold a public CZMP hearing at Dundalk HS. This hearing is still on schedule. As the pandemic response evolves, that may change. If so, our office and the Council will adapt, as we all are learning to do in these most difficult times.
If you want to ensure your voice is heard about the Fort Howard issue, or any of the other 26 CZMP issues in our district, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org