The Laurel City Council is considering a motion that would allow certain commercial uses in the old Laurel Senior High School, which is in a residential zone.
The Laurel Boys and Girls Club controls the building, now called the Phelps Community Center. The club leases part of the old school to the city for a senior center and another part to specialized private schools.
The club supported the introduction of the ordinance to change the zoning regulations so it can lease other parts of it to limited commercial users by applying for a special exception permit.
Representatives of the club testified the group needs the money to maintain the building, City Clerk Kaye Sandul said. However, residents near the building on Montgomery Street said commercial uses are inappropriate for the residential neighborhood.
City planner Karl Brendle said that because the center part of the building is designated as historic, changes to the front, such as commercial signs, have to be approved. Proposed as possible uses are offices and nonretail businesses, such as real estate or insurance firms, Brendle said.
The council is expected to decide on the matter at its next meeting.
In other business, the council introduced a new, highly specialized zoning category known as the research and technology park zone.
This classification would allow limited high-technology industrial uses, such as data processing and communications businesses, assembly of scientific and precision equipment and office uses.
"It's like a super-clean industrial zone. We're using our geography of being in the center of the Baltimore-Washington corridor to our advantage," Brendle said.
The Capital Institute of Technology is moving its Kensington campus near Laurel, and this move may have a catalyst effect on technological industries coming into the area, Brendle said.
The council also passed a motion last week establishing a zoning category for its historic district, known as the village zone, merging several commercial and residential uses into one zoning classification.