Howard County’s planning board will consider a proposal Thursday to abolish a zoning designation designed to spur commercial development in the rural crossroads of Dayton, Lisbon, Highland and Glenwood.
The proposal by council members Greg Fox, a District 5 Republican, and Mary Kay Sigaty, a District 4 Democrat, would remove the floating zone, called BRX, or business-rural crossroads, in response to community concerns that the zone applies a one-size-fits-all approach where the need for additional commercial development is questionable and, in some cases, unwarranted.
“The communities are saying this is not something they want,” Fox said. “We’re being responsive to the community.”
Created in 2013 during comprehensive rezoning, a major process that allows property owners to seek council approval for zoning changes every decade, the BRX zone allows developers to apply for approval of restaurants, convenience stores and other light commercial development through the county’s zoning board. During comprehensive rezoning, several Highland properties requested to change their zoning to commercial zoning.
Since then, the roll-out of the zone has not been well received by most Highland residents, some of whom originally favored the the zone because they thought it would add more predictability in the county’s approval process for commercial properties, according to Dan O’Leary, vice president of the Greater Highland Crossroads Association.
“In the beginning, the concept was very modest: let’s have development and let’s put in some controls. That’s what we thought we were getting but that is not what we got,” O’Leary said. “We don’t want to be Clarksville.”
Preservation Howard County, a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve the county’s historic and cultural heritage, has listed Highland as an endangered historic area since 2007. The community was established in 1749.
Concerns prompted a year-long moratorium of the zone,…