County Executive Bob Cassilly signed Bill 23-026 passed by the Harford County Council on October 10, 2023. The bill limits the size of new distribution centers to 250K square feet and adds new restrictions on large distribution center development.

Bill Summary

Introduced: September 5, 2023
Adopted: October 10, 2023 by Council 5-2 vote

Becomes Law: October 13, 2023 by County Executive Cassilly
Effective: December 12, 2023

The Warehouse Zoning Bill updated use classification “warehousing and wholesaling, processing, distribution and local delivery” to be restricted based on square footage and placed them into 2 new classifications:

  1. Warehousing, distribution and local delivery less than or equal to 150,000 square feet: Permitted in VB, B3, CI, LI and GI
  2. Warehousing, distribution and local delivery greater than 150,000 square feet and less than or equal to 250,000 square feet: Permitted only in CI, LI and GI.

Bill Highlights

  • Distribution centers up to 150,000 sq ft in VB, B3, LI, CI and GI zones
  • Distribution centers up to 250,000 sq ft in CI, LI and GI zones
  • Removes freight terminals from B3 and CI zones (removed in amendment)
  • Maximum building coverage per lot decreased to 40% (amended back to 55% in LI)
  • Maximum impervious coverage per lot decreased to 60% (amended back to 85% in LI)
  • Must have a 100 foot buffer yard on all road sides and sides with residential. Buffer must have an extensive landscape.
  • For warehouses 150k-250k the access points into the property must have a minimum setback of 250 feet from any dwelling.
  • A 14′ minimum berm along any street and agricultural or residential use zone that borders the warehouse. Additional 14’ tree height line in 3 years.
  • No parking or staging areas permitted within water source protection area. 
  • No grading permit shall be issued until all land right of ways has been acquired, a contract for construction of road called for in the transportation element of the County’s Master Plan has been awarded, and construction has been substantially completed and open to traffic.
  • No certificate of occupancy until roads are complete.
  • Reduced the ability to increase building height based on increase in setbacks. This limits the height override loophole so that the side and rear yard setback need to increase 2 feet for each 1 foot of height increase. The current zoning loophole allowed 1 foot height for each 1 foot of increased side/rear yard setback.
  • Greater than 249 trip rates per day will require a Traffic Input Study conducted by HARFORD COUNTY, but paid for by developer.
  • During Development Advisory Committee meeting the developer must provide more details on operations and proposed use.
Amendments eroded the intent of the warehouse zoning bill

Statement by County Executive Bob Cassilly

In a statement County Executive Bob Cassilly said, “Our citizens have made it clear that they do not want unrestrained growth. This update to our development regulations clarifies ambiguous language in existing law, adds conditions for responsible development and is, frankly, long overdue. My administration’s goal is to fairly balance the rights of property owners with the interests of citizens who live and work in the surrounding community.”

1 thoughts on “Warehouse Zoning Bill 23-026

  1. Paul Fallace says:

    These 3P supported amendments to the Warehouse Zoning bill are critical to make it effective and appropriate for the IPhone and Amazon world we are now.

    Here are 5 key points that 3P believes should be addressed:

    Project/Lot/Developable terms are defined and used consistently
    Metrics used to define intensity of use and impact are refined
    Permitted Use Charts (PUC) and references are made clear
    SWM requirements are sufficiently incorporated
    Special requirements for speculative projects are included

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