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Zoning Rips Apart a Community

Nobody wants heavy equipment in their backyard

If you’re taking a ride down to Shady Side and you head onto Snug Harbor Road, you’re bound to see a mess of cranes, bulldozers and trucks in the center of the wooded lot.
    Resident or passer-by, you’ll likely be wondering, what’s with that?
    Last September, Timothy Whitney of Chester on the Eastern Shore purchased the land where the Rural Home-Andrews Hotel received guests from 1888 to 1967. Whitney owns a boat repair and engine shop in Annapolis and planned to open a similar business in Shady Side.
    “It was a marine-oriented blue collar area, plenty of need for boat work,” Whitney said.
    Whitney hoped to use the same site plan as the previous owner, who wanted to build a wood-working shop.
    “But it didn’t show the parking and equipment,” Whitney said. “It takes time to find out exactly what the county wants.”
    Meanwhile, Whitney moved his oversized equipment in, a big undertaking. With his super-load permit in hand, he moved one every day.
    To Shady Siders, it seemed like masses of steel and wheels rolled in overnight.
    “This is the kind of thing that sets the whole neighborhood off,” said Margaret Rauh. House shoppers, she said, are telling their real estate agents to forget houses on Snug Harbor Road. “They don’t want to drive past it.”
    Neighbors were upset over the eyesore, and they wondered if any of the contraptions worked.
    “They see that along the road and they think I dumped it down there and drove off,” Whitney said. “Everything is operational, absolutely. There’s a lack of information on what I want to do down there.”
    A complaint was filed. Anne Arundel County inspectors showed up and ordered Whitney to stop moving in his equipment.
    In December, with the machinery still roadside, the case went to county lawyers. The next month, the county attorney filed a lawsuit against Whitney and his big machines.
    In May, a judge ordered Whitney to pay a $4,000 fine and to have the vehicles and all their pieces removed within 30 days.
    Whitney filed an appeal, leaving the construction equipment idle and in place.
    Whitney says he worked with his engineer on a new site plan. With the environment in mind, he plans to keep some of the area wooded. The construction equipment is so close to the road, he says, because he did not want to remove trees until he had the layout of his future business.
    His eventual plan is to fence in the equipment at the back of the lot.
    All the while Shady Side resident Michael Rauh and his neighbors were mobilizing. Neighbors can ask the county to rezone a particular area, and Rauh and company asked the county council to rezone Whitney’s site as a light construction zone. Under that new zoning, Whitney’s equipment would have to go.
    The county council passed that amendment unanimously. It won’t be law, however, until August, when all redistricting proposals come to a final vote.
    Whitney says the change caught him by surprise.
    “The county didn’t inform the business owner that there was a request to rezone the land,” Whitney said. “That’s not right.”
    Whitney appealed and is waiting for a court date. On July 19, a council meeting is scheduled on the rezoning.
    Whatever happens, neighbors will likely remain at odds over zoning, the touchiest community issue after dogs.

Dear Andy,
The Anne Arundel Chapter Steering Committee volunteers have been pretty busy since the new council took office last December. There are important issues before the Council, and we want to let you know about them
First, we have been developing a framework for a County Council scorecard that we will issue periodically “grading” each councilman on their environmental votes and legislative activities. We have met with each councilman individually to tell them of our plans and priorities and to see if there are ways that we can work together for a cleaner Anne Arundel environment. Although most of the new county council members are conservative, they are also hearing from their constituents that their creeks need to be cleaned up, so we are hopeful, if not optimistic. To find out more about what we have in mind for the scorecard go to County Council Scorecard Under Construction.
Meanwhile, the Council considered rezoning changes for Districts 1 and 4 starting in March as the first stage of the comprehensive rezoning process that occurs every 10 years after the completion of a new General Development Plan (GDP). Rezoning legislation for District 6 and 7 is now being considered by the Council, and Districts 2, 3 and 5 will following in the fall.
While Planning & Zoning’s (P&Z) process for rezoning amendments has emphasized public notice with materials posted on their website, the council’s process has had some serious flaws:
Applications to the council arriving after the deadline are still considered, and, in one case, an amendment was passed without public notice or P&Z review
Council’s amendment process allows amendments to be voted on BEFORE citizens have had a chance to speak
In the first round of rezoning amendments were passed that P&Z felt were counter to the GDP and Small Area Plans; as you might suspect, all of these were up-zonings.
Perhaps most important, under comprehensive rezoning there is no requirement to inform nearby residents or community groups of possible zoning changes. Legislation would be required to insure notification of nearby residents, but the other problems could be addressed by simple changes to council procedures.
Let your councilman hear from you about the need for improving the process. If you want more information about how the rezoning process works and what rezoning could affect you, see County Council Rezoning Process Needs Fixing on our website.
In May, the Council considered the County annual budget in a “rough and tumble” debate that found several councilmen at odds with each other. In the end, although the council cut $16,000,000 million from the budget submitted by Leopold, the key environmental funds were preserved. The specifics can be found at Environmental Funds Survive in County Budget.
We appreciate your support, especially in electing our endorsed candidates, Chris Trumbauer and Jamie Benoit, who have already shown their impact in this council session.
We have totally updated our website and want to maintain the latest news so you can respond to your councilman. Please let us know what you think.
And our county page also contains a new link to a donation form specifically set up for the AA Chapter. Please feel free to use it! Most of our efforts are driven by volunteers, but we need some funds to get the word out!
Kincey Potter and Bob Gallagher, Steering Committee Co-Chairs

The AA County Chapter Steering Committee members are Democrats, Republicans and Independents from different areas of the county who joined together because we share a committment to conservation and protecting the quality of life in Anne Arundel County.

Bob Gallagher, Board Chair of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper
Kincey Potter, Board of South River Federation
Richard D’Amato, Former member of the Maryland House of Delegates
Ann Fligsten, Land Use Attorney and Founder of Growth Action Network
Kent McNew, Founder and Board Chair, Eastern Petroleum
Eliot Powell, President ,Whitehall Development
Tim Reyburn, President/Owner of Ticoscen, Inc.; President of Russett Community
Elvia Thompson, President, Stellar Presentations, Inc.; founder of AnnapolisGreen.com
Marcia Verploegen Lewis, Board of Maryland LCV; Government Relations Consultant, Gally Public Affairs

For more than 30 years, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters has been the independent political voice for the environment in our state. Maryland LCV is dedicated to making environmental protection and restoration a top priority for Maryland’s elected officials, appointed leaders, candidates and voters. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters advocates for sound conservation policies, works to get pro-environment candidates elected, and holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions.

Click here to donate to the Anne Arundel Chapter of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Nine State Circle, Suite 202
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-280-9855
www.mdlcv.org/chapters

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Whose back yard was this equipment in? Here is a fact: the land owner, also a resident of Shady Side, was NOT at all informed of what was happening seems WRONG. Is there a law suit possible? In effect, this re-zoning changes Mr. Whitney's (a property owner in Shady Side) business, the reason he bought the property. In this economy? Really? Behind his back? Really? Where are we drawing the line??? blue collar can't mingle with the elite? how about the color of my hair? is the color of my vehicle okay? how much rust is allowed? what if I smell bad??? (which I sometimes do because I work really hard) Is this the U.S.A.? I understand that Mr. Whitney is talking to Mr. Rauh, showing him the engineers plans in hopes of a mutual understanding. Can that make a difference? Can U.S. citizens work together... compromise, work through differences? I sure hope so! Peace...