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County Council President Bud Otis

(8/2017) Do you have a technical issue that may need a legislative fix? If the answer is yes, then please reach out directly to me or your district’s Council Member. We will do what we can to help. Recently, the owner of the property where Sweet Clover Barn (antiques and home decor) is located asked for an amendment to our county code to allow her tenant to continue to operate the business where it is currently located. The allowed uses in the current zoning for Limited Industrial (LI) did not include authorization for the sales of antiques. It did however allow for auction houses, boat sales and restaurants. As the operation of an antiques and home furnishings business seemed to fall inside that type, category or line of business, we explored the possibility of adding "Antique, Artisan, and Craft Shops" to the LI district as a permitted use.

The concept was vetted through the Frederick County Division of Planning and Permitting staff prior to the preparation of the Bill itself. After the Bill was ready, it was forwarded to the FC Planning Commission (FCPC) for review and vote. The FCPC voted to approve this Bill on 7.12.17 in a 5 to 2 vote. This process helped move this legislation forward. As of 7.18.17, Bill #17-11 has been approved. It was unanimously passed by the Council. It will be effective 60 calendar days from 7.18.17 which is Saturday, September 16, 2017. This was a great result for the property owner and her tenant. A win-win for all. We are working together with the Administration to encourage more and more businesses to flourish in Frederick County. The businesses here are becoming more aware that we are willing to work together for a positive solution, whenever possible.

It was also brought to my attention the need for a zoning text amendment to keep up with the times. There seems to be a need to accommodate tiny homes on current lots. There is a national trend moving in this direction for a number of reasons – affordability, "granny pods", millennials with minimalist living needs, "mother-in-law" suite next door, etc. My personal vision is geared toward protecting the senior population and being able to provide more people with the availability to "age in place". This may be a good option as one of the tools in the tool box. It may also spur additional affordable housing options here in Frederick County.

There are considerations which need to be addressed. The tiny homes built on the same property as an existing home is called an Accessory Dwelling Unit. There are planning, permitting, and legal considerations which are being worked out as I write this article. I am planning to sponsor this legislation and bring the Bill to the full Council once the analysis and final wording is complete. Stay tuned!

I appreciate CM Billy Shreve for putting forth legislation to address one of the businesses in Frederick County with a zoning problem in Bill #17-13 – Limited Wood Waste Recycling in the General Commercial (GC) Zoning District. Unfortunately the legislative fix proposed could adversely affect many businesses in general commercial zones and opens up too many possibilities for problems in the future as it has wide-reaching implications for the county. The Division of Planning and Permitting staff were against this idea, and the Planning Commission voted unanimously against approving the Bill. After some deliberation, CM Shreve opted to table his Bill to allow for additional research to provide possible amendments for review at the Council Meeting on 8.22.17. We are trying to find a solution to this zoning issue by working with the Administration to find the best possible outcome for this business.

If you have any questions or concerns, my door is always open. Please email me at or call 301-600-1101. I’m happy to meet with you! Thank you for allowing me to be of service for this terrific county.

Read other articles from Frederick County Government Officials