Shelleys Fields

The county approved development plan for Shelleys Fields currently permits 20 building lots and a regional sports complex in an agricultural and environmentally sensitive area of Freeland. If we do not fight the excessive development proposed for this property, it will set a precedent for allowing expanded and undesirable land use in our community for years to come. Our goal is to push the development plan back to the original seven residential lots.

Do we oppose a regional sports complex? No. We support recreational facilities and the activities of the county's recreation councils. We oppose the location of this complex because of the lasting environmental impact this large facility and excessive building lots will have on our rural community. There are much better ways to address the shortage of playing fields in our area.

We are fighting the development on three legal fronts:

  1. We appealed the Baltimore County Zoning Board's approval of the developer's revised plans. We argued that restrictive zoning allows only two lots on the property proposed for the regional sports complex - not three. By law, RC-2 zoning allows only two lots on the property proposed for the regional sports complex. During the January 9 hearing, our attorney, G. Macy Nelson, said the developer's plans illegally place three "lots" on the 98.5-acre RC-2 land adjacent to Middletown Road. The People's Counsel for Baltimore County joined in to support our position. See below for a more detailed summary of the hearing.
  2. We requested a zoning reclassification of the entire property to RC-8 as part of the Baltimore County Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP). We expect support for our request for zoning reclassification from at least three county agencies that objected to the upzoning of the property in 2004.The CZMP hearing for District 3 will be held on Monday.12 May at 7 p.m., at Hereford High School.
  3. We filed a lawsuit in Baltimore County Circuit Court contesting the legality of upzoning the property to allow 13 additional building lots. We believe this occurred because of an illegal arrangement called contract zoning. No dates have been set for this process.

Report on the County Board of Appeals hearing:

On January 9, 2008, our appeal of the hearing officer's decision on the Shelleys Fields project was heard by three Appeals Board members, Larry Stahl, Edward Crizer and Robert Witt. Our appeal stems from the developer's decision to create three parcels on the portion of the property adjoining Middletown Road. People's Counsel Peter M. Zimmerman supported our argument concerning the number of lots allowed in RC-2 zoning. Only two are allowed in an RC-2 zone. A lengthy discussion ensued from the developer's attorneys who attempted to define what a parcel, plat or lot consists of in a subdivision. If you attended the September hearing before Zoning Commissioner William Wiseman, you may remember that Wally Lippincott, Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, testified that the project contained three parcels instead of the two allowed.

Public deliberations were conducted on February 7, 2010 by the three Appeals Board members mentioned above. They ruled that the Zoning Commissioner's ruling should stand as he made a "value judgment" based on the evidence before him, and they did not have the authority to overrule his decision.. Larry Stahl and Robert Witt at first opposed the decision but ultimately agreed with Edward Crizer that the decision should stand. We contend that an RC-2 parcel can only be divided into two lots, not three as defined in the plans - and we will continue to appeal this decision by taking it to the next level in Circuit Court.

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