Baltimore County Council Legislation Update

Originally published by the Hunt Valley Business Forum.

June 30, 2024
By: Jenn Busse

The Baltimore County Council has been busy this year passing legislation, some of which significantly impacts development and redevelopment opportunities. Here are the highlights.

In January 2024, at the request of Councilman Kach, the councilman for the Hunt Valley area, the Council introduced legislation amending the zoning regulations to allow residential uses under certain circumstances in non-residential areas within Hunt Valley. Review Bill Here

Although the Bill was vetoed by the County Executive citing concerns over spot zoning, the Council overrode the veto and the law became effective in March.

Also in January, Bill 3-24 was introduced at the request of the County Executive. If passed, it would have permitted mixed use development in certain commercial and industrial zones, and under certain circumstances. After it was apparent the Bill would not be passed by the Council, it was withdrawn, and almost contemporaneously the Council introduced and then passed its own version which created a new Mixed-Use Overlay District. Being that the County is currently in the quadrennial Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (“CZMP”), there is the opportunity for properties which fall within a CZMP Issue to be rezoned to enjoy this new Overlay. Once a property is zoned within the M.U. District, a mixed-use development satisfying the new M.U. District regulations may be proposed as an alternative to whatever other uses are already permitted in the underlying zone.

In April of 2024, the Council introduced legislation to amend the County’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (“APFO”) regarding overcrowded schools.

The Bill was passed by the Council but then vetoed by the County Executive, citing concerns that it would drastically reduce opportunities for attainable housing and do little to solve school overcrowding.

A vote by the Council to override that veto is expected to be taken by the Council at their next legislative session on July 1st. (More on this below.)

Also in April, the Council introduced legislation requiring that all Planning Board appointees be confirmed by the County Council and be subject to term limits. This Bill was passed in late May and has raised concerns over the ability for County Executive appointees to remain and/or be confirmed.

In June, and again at the request of Councilman Kach, the Council passed legislation creating another new Overlay District, the Elderly and Senior Housing (“E.S.H”) Overlay District, to promote the development of housing for elderly and senior persons.

Fast forward to now, and in addition to that anticipated vote to override the veto of Bill 31-24 (for which it will take an affirmative vote by at least 5 of the Councilmen), there are a couple of significant pieces of legislation up for vote by the Council on July 1, 2024.

Bill 45-24 was introduced in June and proposes to revise how development impact fees are calculated on residential new construction. It has been reported that since the enactment of this fee Development Impact Fee in 2019, the County has not collected what was expected. The fee is currently calculated based on the sales prices of a home and this Bill proposes to instead base the fee on a price per square foot. And, instead of the fee being paid at the time of settlement on the home, the fee is proposed to be required prior to the issuance of a building permit.

Also introduced in June, Bill 47-24 proposes to increase the number of Councilmembers from the current 7 to 9 beginning with the 2026 election cycle.

Being that this action requires a amendment to the County Charter, passing the Bill will require an affirmative vote by 5 of the Councilmen and could have significant political impact. As to how the Councilmanic District Map could change, see this attached Exhibit.

Finally, later this summer the Council will vote on the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (“CZMP”) maps. That vote is scheduled for August 27, 2024. The final round of public hearings on the CZMP Issues is concluding Thursday, June 27th.

Of particular interest in this CZMP Cycle, there are a number of CZMP Issues requesting to add the CCC Overlay District onto properties, and there are also a number of CZMP Issues filed by the Council which threaten to remove existing CCC Overlay Districts from properties. The CCC Overlay is considered to be a redevelopment tool in that it provides commercial properties with the opportunity to add apartments.

The HVBF will continue to update its membership as legislation progresses.