Change zoning laws to remove conditional uses on taxpayer supported Agricultural Preservation Land
This petition had 451 supporters
We are concerned that recent changes to the Howard County, MD Comprehensive Zoning Plan will have unintended consequences that threaten to undermine the county's long standing support of farming and create unsafe and unhealthy conditions for county residents.
Under the recent 2013 Comprehensive Zoning changes, several new types of conditional uses are permitted on Agricultural Preservation land. These include communications towers, golf courses, shooting ranges, mulch manufacture, and composting facilities. While these types of commercial operations have their place in Howard County, they are not in keeping with the intent of the Agricultural Land Preservation Program, which is described in the Howard County Code as being “to protect the health, safety and well-being of present and future residents of Howard County by conserving and protecting 30,000 acres of agricultural land as an environmental resource of major importance.”
County Executive Ulman said during the most recent Batch 14 easement acquisition process, “Preserving our farmland goes hand-in-hand with protecting the quality of life in Howard County. Local farms provide us with healthy, locally-grown food, scenic landscapes, jobs and recreational opportunities.” The non-traditional conditional uses permitted under the Comprehensive Zoning changes of 2013 do not contribute to the enhancement of Howard County quality of life, and they run counter to the stated goals of the Agricultural Land Preservation Program.
Facilities are currently proposed for Dayton and Woodbine on agricultural preservation land. These operations would not have been a permissible conditional use prior to the 2013 Comprehensive Zoning Plan changes. They are expected to bring in and grind significant quantities of wood waste from off-property, resulting in airborne contaminants such as wood dust particles that may impact the health of community residents. The coal dust and chemicals used to dye the mulch could contaminate the well water supply and local streams, which feed the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay. In addition, the impact of commercial dump trucks and tractor trailers on already congested and dangerous roads could be significant, and even deadly. Finally, conducting industrial and commercial operations on properties assessed under agricultural property tax rates increases the tax burden on true farmers that the Agricultural Land Preservation Program are meant to protect.
Having spent millions of Howard County taxpayer dollars on preserving these farms, we strongly encourage the Howard County Council to take action to avoid these unintended consequences resulting from the recent Comprehensive Zoning Plan changes. Thank you for your support and consideration.
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