Joseph F. Snee Jr.

Attorney Joseph F. Snee Jr. speaks during a Harford County Council meeting on Nov. 3 regarding a proposed waiver of a five-year time period for a proposed residential project in Aberdeen.

BEL AIR — Last Tuesday the Harford County Council unanimously approved a resolution for a waiver of the five year waiting period under Maryland law regarding land use and density restrictions for an 80 acre parcel in Aberdeen.

The property, currently owned by Sage Gilbert, LLC, is actually just over 80 acres, according to attorney Joseph F. Snee Jr., who presented the proposal on behalf of Sage Gilbert during the council’s Nov. 3 meeting.

According to Snee, the property consisted of two parcels, one the former Siebert property and the former Adams property, both of which are contiguous to the city of Aberdeen.

The property was originally annexed into the city effective Oct. 11, 2019, but pursuant to the Maryland local government code, section 4-416, without the express approval of the county council there would be a five-year waiting period for the land to be used for the purpose for which Sage Gilbert intended, namely residential housing.

Section 4-416 specifically states that without the waiver, Aberdeen could not allow development of the annexed land for land uses substantially different than the authorized use, or at a substantially higher density, not exceeding 50 percent, than could be granted for the proposed development, in accordance with the zoning classification of the county applicable at the time of the annexation. The property was zoned agricultural according to county zoning.

Council member Chad Shrodes (District D) said the original proposed development would have included 49 single-family homes, 56 villas and 350 apartments/townhomes. He noted that the developer and Aberdeen residents though were able to negotiate a deal that he said created a “win-win” situation for everyone. Shrodes noted that the arrangement led in part to the request to waive the five-year waiting period.

According to Snee, the proposed agreement would include 50 single-family homes and 80 single-family homes/villas.

Snee noted that approval of the waiver would allow Sage Gilbert to start the process of the development with the city of Aberdeen. He noted that one of the first steps would be to complete a traffic impact analysis immediately as part of the development approval process.

During the Nov. 3 meeting, District E council member Robert Wagner said he was not in support of the proposal last year. He noted that the city of Aberdeen officials had spoken with himself and council member Shrodes to let them know the city has adequate facilities to move ahead with the proposal. He then said he thinks it is within the parameters of the council to support what Aberdeen wants to do.

Also during the Nov. 3 meeting, Harford County Director of Planning and Zoning Brad Killian spoke on the proposed waiver and noted that planning and zoning notes that the proposed use of the parcel is inconsistent with the county’s land use designation for the parcel, which is currently zoned Ag and noted that the proposed integrated business district would require the five-year waiting period without a waiver by the county. He also noted the property in question is historically rural in nature.

Killian said, “The impacts of unplanned growth will be exacerbated if council sanctions annexation before all parties are able to come together to establish a coordinated approach to meeting all future infrastructure needs…”

He further asked the council to allow respective agencies to evaluate future impacts to ensure they can meet needs of current and future residents.

During the Nov. 10 meeting when the resolution came up for consideration, it was unanimously approved 7-0 to allow the waiver of the five-year period under Maryland law.

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