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Council to Ask Some Changes in New County Zoning Regulations

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the City Council will consider approving a letter to the M-NCPPC with the City’s comments on the Comprehensive Draft Review (CRD) of the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Regulations, and Landscape Manual. A zoning map amendment (zoning map) to implement the new ordinance will follow after the new zoning regulations a have been passed.

The letter prepared by staff expresses general support for the changes proposed in the zoning rewrite and lists the following comments, concerns, and requests:

  1. Rezoning the Route 1 Corridor as a Regional Transportation Oriented zone without any overlay zones would remove height limitations and parking requirements restrictions and promote development inconsistent with the Route 1 sector plan and community expectations. The City suggests reworking standards in the base zones in order to meet community expectations and a more realistic reflection of market standards.
  2. The Hollywood Commercial District (HCD) is proposed to be rezoned Commercial and General Office which allows 48 dwelling units per acre and heights between 86 and 110 feet. More appropriate for the HCD is the Commercial Neighborhood zone provides for medium density residential and lower density commercial to primarily serve the community.
  3. The new minimum requirement of 18 % commercial in in new mixed -use developments will not guarantee successful mixed-use developments. The City supports requiring ground floor retail in designated main street shopping areas.
  4. Off- street parking is not required in Regional Transportation Oriented zones. College Park does not have the heavy transit or light rail and a managed parking district that are needed to eliminate off-street parking. The City does not support exempting development from providing off-street parking along Route 1.
  5. College Park is part of the 8% of the County that will require a menu of alternative rezoning options as part of a “decision tree.” Since this is a discretionary process, the City requests that it be included in the exercise used to locate proposed new zones within City limits.
  6. The City supports the new neighborhood applicability standards that are intended to provide a transition and ensure compatibility between single-family zones and more intense forms of development. The neighborhood compatibility standards should not be eliminated or relaxed along the Route 1 corridor outside of the Walkable Node University areas.
  7. The current threshold for project approval without weigh in by the City or the community is too high. The City requests that any development over 100,000 sq ft be subject to major site plan review (detailed site plan, pre-application conference, public hearing) and that municipal staff be afforded the opportunity to weigh in on minor site plans.
  8. The City supports the new requirement for a pre-application neighborhood meeting when zoning map amendments, special exemptions and major detailed site plans are requested. The City requests that this requirement also be applicable to minor site plans and that the Planning Director have access to community views prior to deciding a case.
  9. The City has concerns about the definitions of Boarding or Rooming House and Fast Food Restaurant. The City requests that the definition of Board/Rooming House be revised to more clearly define both occupants and guests, whether or not meals are required to be provided, and the maximum and minimum occupancy requirements. The current definition of fast food restaurant would include fast-casual establishments like Panera Bread, Noodle and Starbucks. The definition seems overly restrictive and the City requests the definition be modified.
  10. The proposed requirements exempt Local and Regional Transit Oriented Zones from meeting the Transportation Adequacy Requirements at the time of subdivision unless there is either a transportation demand management program or a trip reduction program managed by the applicant. The City cannot support this provision until more study and analysis is done and until there is more institutional capacity to review, monitor, assess and manage transportation impacts on the county level.
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