How-to Monday: Developments in your back yard
Source: Sun photographer Barbara Haddock Taylor
To be forewarned is to be forearmed -- or to have something to look forward to, as the case may be. That's why people like to know what real estate developments are brewing in their community.
Once, there was little choice for the interested citizen but to visit the local planning department. Now -- well, that's still the main option, but more jurisdictions are offering some information online.
Anne Arundel County has a list of scheduled "pre-submission" meetings, for developers to meet with residents about upcoming plans, HERE. The county also keeps maps and charts of subdivision activity HERE, to give you a sense of what's going on where. The Office of Planning and Zoning is at 2664 Riva Road in Annapolis, 410-222-7450.
Baltimore City has a site HERE that lets you look up permits issued since 2002. Need planning and zoning information? You can call a community planner -- their contacts are HERE -- or visit the city Planning Department at 417 E. Fayette St., 410-396-7526.
Baltimore County keeps its community plans, zoning maps and similar information HERE. You can sign up for a quarterly e-newsletter about approved plans HERE (and find other e-newsletters, some related to development, HERE). The county also has information about "planned unit developments" HERE. The county Office of Planning is in the Jefferson Building, Suite 101, at 105 W. Chesapeake Ave. in Towson, 410-887-3211.
Carroll County keeps a list of approvals, submittals and recordations HERE. But the information is only through 2007, last I checked. The Department of Planning is at 225 N. Center St. in Westminster, 410-386-2145. Incentive to go in: The county has a mapping program on a computer set aside for public use that lets you see subdivisions in process and a lot of other useful things, like school district boundaries and zoning.
Harford County has updates to its zoning code HERE. It lists development meetings HERE with some details on the developments being discussed. The Department of Planning and Zoning is at 220 S. Main Street in Bel Air, 410-638-3103.
Howard County offers more information for people who want details on individual developments. Click HERE for a searchable tool that lets you see site development plans, subdivision plans and pre-submission meetings for properties near any address you choose. The Department of Planning and Zoning is at 3430 Court House Drive in Ellicott City, 410-313-2350.
Remember: If you live in a municipality with its own planning powers -- Carroll has eight, for instance -- you'll most likely want to turn to your city for information.
We're still a ways away from seeing all public documents on all development plans with the click of a home-computer mouse, but your local officials might hop to it if you ask. Arnold F. "Pat" Keller III, Baltimore County's planning director, encourages residents to email firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas for Planning's website.
"If people feel like we could improve it or would like different types of information, email us," Keller says. "No joke."