After years of planning, months of deliberation, weeks of public hearings, and untold hours of discussion, it took only a few minutes for the Harford County Council to unanimously approve and enroll the new Comprehensive Rezoning bill Tuesday night.
In fact, the vote was so swift that County Executive David Craig – who made a special appearance in the council chambers Tuesday night – nearly missed it.
Last week, council members introduced and approved nearly 70 amendments to the Comprehensive Rezoning bill, but Tuesday night there were no amendments, no additions, and no discussion – simply a roll-call vote which resulted in a 7-0 approval of the bill.
The night got off to an inauspicious start – with a rousing intro from council president Billy Boniface (“Let’s rock!”) and a moving prayer from councilman Dion Guthrie (“God bless our pets”) – but it didn’t take long for the county to get down to, and wrap up, their business.
“We’re going to sign this bill and be done with it,” Boniface said, shortly after the unanimous vote.
Craig was invited to pose with the county council standing around him as he penned his name on the Comprehensive Rezoning bill.
“I think we got it right this time,” Craig said as he congratulated the council for their work during the rezoning process.
Craig also took a jab at the previous county council, whose efforts on the Comprehensive Rezoning process led to his veto of their bill.
“Unlike before, the council was willing to work all summer on this,” he said.
In his closing comments, Guthrie reiterated “you can’t make everyone happy,” and said in some instances, his attempts at reaching a middle-ground on a rezoning issue served only to make parties on both sides of the issue unhappy.
“Hopefully we wont’ see that for another 10 years,” he added.
Speaking about an issue in his own Bel Air district, Councilman Jim McMahan said “a lot of land around Camelot requested a change of zoning.” He thanked the local residents, would-be developer, and Friends of Harford activist group for working together on the issue and making his job “much easier.”
The council adjourned before 8 p.m.
Here is the county’s take:
County Council Passes Comprehensive Rezoning Legislation
County Executive Craig Signs Bill into Law
(Bel Air, MD) – – Harford County Executive David R. Craig signed into law Bill No. 09-23, Comprehensive Rezoning following passage of the bill by the Harford County Council at their legislative session Tuesday, August 11. The bill passed the County Council by a vote of 7 – 0.
The county executive was joined for the special bill signing by County Council President Billy Boniface and all members of the Harford County Council.
The comprehensive rezoning process had been on-going for several months and included comments and recommendations from the Department of Planning and Zoning and the Office of the County Executive. The County Council also conducted three public hearings on the bill at various locations throughout the county to receive public comment on the proposed legislation.
Final passage of the bill included 67 amendments and resulted in 259 zoning changes to properties throughout Harford County.
“I commend and congratulate Council President Boniface and the County Council for their hard work in meeting the challenges of comprehensive rezoning and passing a bill that maintains the integrity of the Harford County Master Plan,” remarked County Executive Craig. “The process has been open and there has been on-going dialogue between both the County Council and the Administration which helped bring this legislation to a successful conclusion,” County Executive Craig stated.
Bill No. 09-23, Comprehensive Rezoning takes effect October 13, 2009.