The basis for denying the tower height lies within an apparent disconnect between New Town Zoning and the height restrictions in the Final Development Plan.
The Howard County Zoning Regulations, Section 125 – New Town District, Part E(4) states:
4. Adjustments to Bulk Regulations for Individual Lots
Upon the request of the owner of a particular lot, the Planning Board may approve parking, setback, height, lot coverage, or other bulk requirements for such lot or parcel which differ from those required by the applicable Final Development Plan, in accordance with the following procedures:
The procedures detail review in a public meeting, required drawings, and part C states:
In addition to the notice for public meetings required by the Planning Board’s Rules of Procedure, the property that is the subject of the application shall be posted with the date, time, and place of the meeting for at least 15 days immediately before the public meeting.
This was contrasted with the text regarding height in the Final Development Plan. The test states (and I am paraphrasing here):
The maximum height limit will be 50 feet, except that height determined by the Planning Board.
So the discussion by Planning Board members oscillated between the Zoning Regs and the Final Development Plan. Was a height limit beyond 50 feet on this lot different from what was required in the Final Development Plan? Ultimately, the Planning Board decided that signs should have been posted to allow a change in height.
So the Site Development Plan has been approved and (at least for now) the clock tower has been dis-allowed. I suppose moving forward, Wegmans will most likely seek building permits for the site. Meanwhile, the Final Development Plan change is on appeal and will be heard by the Howard County Hearing Examiner in the next few weeks.