October Legislative Update

Introduced: Bill 81-13Multifamily dwellings and townhouse dwellings- Allows townhouses and multifamily developments in commercial zone areas of up to 75% of the net site area of a building.  This is a change from only allowing residential use in 50% of the floor area of commercial buildings.  In commercial areas within 2-miles of a commercial complex of at least a million square feet, the residential percent may be more.  

Bill Summary: CB 81-13 encourages redevelopment of commercial areas in the C1, C2 and C3 zones by allowing additional flexibility with required commercial use as long as the site meets several specific incentive criteria.

  • CB 81 permits townhouses as a conditional use in the C2 zone. C1 and C3 currently allow townhouses.
  • CB 81 changes the minimum commercial use requirement from 50% Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to 25% of the Net Site Area for developments that include multifamily dwellings. 
  • If the entire development is located within 2 miles of a business complex consisting of at least 1,000,000 sq.ft. of floor area, OPZ may reduce the commercial use requirement below 25% if the lot size is at least 4 acres, multifamily net density does not exceed 22 units per acre, the developer submits a market study and enters into an incentive program.
  • CB 81 does not modify current maximum multifamily density of 12 units per acre in C1, 22 units per acre in C2, and 15 units per acre in C3.
  • CB 81 will set the maximum allowable townhouse density at 5 units per acre in C2, which is the same as now exists in C1 and C3. 
  • If the development is located within 2 miles of a business complex consisting of at least 1,000,000 sq.ft. of floor area, OPZ may increase the maximum townhouse net density up to 15 units per acre if the lot size is at least 4 acres, the developer submits a market study and enters into an incentive program.
  • CB 81 lists 9 incentive program options.
  • CB 81 does not modify the existing bulk regulations in C1, C2 or C3.
  • CB-81 does not modify existing APF requirements.

HBAM position:

    • HBAM supports CB 81 and believes it will encourage redevelopment of older, formerly undevelopable properties in growth area that have been deteriorating over time.
    • HBAM supports CB 81 because new full time employment will be created from the revitalized commercial properties. 
    • HBAM believes CB 81 will encourage smart growth by focusing development and redevelopment in growth areas closer to commercial complexes and public infrastructure.
    • HBAM believes CB 81 will promote mixed use and alternative transportation - including pedestrian connectivity and reduce the number of cars on the road.  
    • HBAM supports the addition of allowing townhouses as a conditional use in C2 since townhouses are a less intense use than that which is already permitted.
    • HBAM supports the additional flexibility within 2 miles of a major business complex.
    • HBAM supports the change to a net site area and believes the 50% FAR calculation was often difficult to meet, making some projects infeasible.
    • HBAM supports CB 81 since it mirrors commercial revitalization code already in place elsewhere in the County.

Failed: Bill 74-13 – SWM special revenue fund – this bill expands the $1 fee to all non-profits exempt from income taxes and property taxes.  Currently religious organizations pay $1, private schools pay $170 and 501(c)(3) or (d) non-profits pay $340 for each half acre of impervious.  The AFL-CIO has threatened to sue the county because churches are granted $1 fee and other non-profits pay more. The legislation was recently amended to expand the definition of a farm and extend the appeal process for farms and non-profits to Dec. 31. 

Passed: Bill 75-13 – Fire Code – The County is updating the fire code but no new regulations will affect single family detached homes.  The updated code will affect dead-end streets in multifamily developments, codifying that the turn around distance must be 150’.  The County had allowed up to 300’.  Surrounding counties use 150’ which seems to be the standard so HBAM will not object.

Passed: Bill 76-13 – Critical Area – The County passed new critical area legislation in December but this new bill reflects changes requested by the critical area commission.  The bill makes minor changes to standing, grading, grandfathering, afforestation, variance procedures, and definitions. 

Failed: Bill 66-13 - Capital facility connection charge & connection deferral fee – the capital connection fee bill was amended to allow a 2 year extension. The original legislation allowed just 1 year. 

Failed: Bill 59-13 – Backflow prevention devices - the backflow inspection legislation was amended to add testing and also requires inspection and testing upon installation, after repairs or relocation, and every three years. 

P2503.8.1 Inspections. Inspections shall be made of all backflow prevention assemblies UPON INSTALLATION, IMMEDIATELY AFTER REPAIRS OR RELOCATION, AND EVERY THREE YEARS to determine whether they are operable.

P2503.8.2 Testing. Reduced pressure principle, double check, double check detector and pressure vacuum breaker backflow assemblies shall be tested at the time of installation, immediately after repairs or relocation and [at least annually] EVERY THREE YEARS.