My name is Dimitri Plionis and I am the President of Hungar’s Beach Private Road Association. I have been directed by the Association’s Board to make these remarks.
Last Wednesday I appeared in front of the Planning Commission to oppose the proposed downzoning of Hungar’s Beach from Existing Rural Subdivision to the Agriculture District. Most of you were present, so I will not repeat that statement; but for the sake of those not present, I will summarize our position.
Hungar’s Beach is a community that was established more than 40 years ago. It is a single-use, residential subdivision, consisting of 28 lots, located on the water, and it is served by a private road built by the developer and now maintained by the community. We understand that the reason for the proposed downzoning is a rule adopted in the last couple of months that stipulates that a subdivision be defined as a residential division of six or more lots “deeded or platted together”.
We oppose the proposed downzoning on the following grounds:
1. Applying the rule to a community that was created m ore than 40 years ago, when development was defined as selling a lot or two every couple of years, is, on its face, unreasonable and arbitrary.
2. Hungar’s Beach was intended as a residential community from its inception and has effectively been a subdivision for more than 40 years, a fact that is faithfully reflected in the definition of Existing Rural Subdivision and its current designation as such in the currently adopted land use map.
3. Downzoning will render our community vulnerable to activities incompatible with its character and development. We are especially concerned about the prospect that domestic livestock would be permitted in our lots.
We suggested as a reasonable compromise that Hungar’s Beach be grandfathered from the strict application of the newly adopted rule. Our suggestion was rejected by the Planning Commission.
We wish to appeal to you the decision of the Planning Commission that retroactively and unreasonably overturns a long-standing situation. We recognize that the County needs some kind of criterion for recognizing a subdivision. However, let us also recognize that the newly adopted rule is not in any way endowed with unique or inalienable qualities. As Ms. Benson’s memo of May 14 indicates, it was simply one of several options considered, and our community’s proposed downzoning is merely the incidental, or arguably accidental, result of the selection of that particular rule. Other rules considered would have left us unaffected.
We have been told that changing the rule at this time would inordinately delay the process of adopting a much needed comprehensive plan that fosters responsible growth and development in the County. We recognize that this has been a difficult issue for the Commission and that they have worked hard to devise a solution; so, if the rule must be retained, then we feel that we must be grandfathered. There are arguably situations when the retroactive application of a rule without exceptions may be justified. But those situations must, for the sake of fairness, be limited to those that are of absolutely vital importance. We submit hat not granting an exception in this case does not serve a critically vital interest; it merely serves to reinforce the technical validity of a particular rule formation. We have been told that making an exception would give rise to claims by a multitude of other communities, currently in the Agriculture District, to be upzoned to an Existing Subdivision status. Our response is that we are already an Existing Subdivision and they are not. That surely has to have legal precedence.
If neither of the above options are, in your considerate judgment, feasible, then we would like to seek some other kind of relief (such as modifying the zoning ordinance for situations such as ours) so that we don’t end up with someone setting up a domestic livestock operation (say, a bunch of chickens and a pig) in our midst, which would be allowed by right should we be downzoned as proposed (as currently provided in the Zoning Ordinance, Article VII, Section L, paragraph 2, and definition 3(b)). By-the-way, this ordinance fails to protect the Bay from livestock runoff which is potentially a bigger pollution contributor than certain other activities currently prohibited.