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Baltimore Co. Police & Fire

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End the Towson Royal Farms debate – Baltimore Sun

Our view: Councilman Marks’ decision to reverse his earlier support for a development plan should kill the project

Whether a Royal Farms at the corner of York Road and Bosley Avenue in Towson would be a good use of the space or an abomination at the gateway to the county seat, County Councilman David Marks’ decision to reverse his previous support for the project should mark the end of it. He has the legal right to introduce a new resolution modifying the one he ushered through the council last fall in support of a planned unit development at that site, and longstanding county tradition holds that his desire, as the representative for that area, should be respected by his colleagues and the county executive.

We acknowledge that there are some countermanding factors at work here. For one, it’s generally not good practice for the government to greenlight a project and then change its mind a few months later. That’s not fair to the developer, Caves Valley Partners, which has invested substantial time and money to advance the project to this point. Furthermore, the land in question is a county-owned parcel, the former site of the Towson fire station. It was put up for sale by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s administration as part of a plan to pay for a new fire station, which has already been built at the intersection of Bosley and Towsontown Boulevard. The $8.3 million sale price for the land does give the executive and the rest of the council at least some greater stake in this project than they do in typical land use decisions.

Read full editorial: End the Towson Royal Farms debate – Baltimore Sun

Towson to Kamenetz: We don’t want a Royal Farms – Baltimore Sun

As a Towson resident, I find it simply extraordinary that Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who does not reside in Towson and will only be in office another 16 months, should impose his will on the residents by his “strong backing” of the proposed gas station development in the face of enormous opposition from the community (“Councilman will seek to block construction of Towson gas station,” June 28).

Read full letter: Towson to Kamenetz: We don’t want a Royal Farms – Baltimore Sun

Stalled Towson Row project clears a hurdle – Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore County review committee has approved an initial request by a pair of developers to scale down the original plan for the stalled Towson Row project in downtown Towson, a mixed-use development that has broken ground but has been sitting idle since December. [GTCCA note: Groundbreaking was in October, 2015]

However, those revisions — which include building a larger hotel and scraping a planned underground parking garage — must now be incorporated into a final overall plan for the project that county officials must approve before construction can continue, Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said.

The county’s Development Review Committee on June 20 approved a request from Towson-based Caves Valley Partners and Owings Mill-based Greenberg Gibbons to redesign the project to make it slightly smaller than the development’s original plan, Kobler said. The committee is responsible for reviewing and approving development in the county.

Read full article: Stalled Towson Row project clears a hurdle – Baltimore Sun

Councilman will seek to block construction of Towson gas station – Baltimore Sun

A key Baltimore County councilman said Wednesday that he will seek to block the construction of a Royal Farms gas station in Towson, a project that has faced vociferous opposition from the local community.

The gas station is one part of a larger project that would see a vacant firehouse on York Road redeveloped under a proposed $8.3 million dollar deal between the county and Caves Valley Partners.

“My job as a county councilman is to listen to the community and in this case to take action to bring some closure to an extraordinarily controversial issue,” said David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson.

Marks initially supported moving forward with a review of the project as a planned unit development, which allows developers to build outside of zoning rules in exchange for an agreed-upon community benefit. The council approved the PUD in December.

Marks said he will introduce a resolution at the council’s meeting next week that would put an end to the review for the gas station, blocking its construction.

There is no guarantee that the move will be successful. The council typically operates under a policy of deferring to the local member on issues that affect his or her district, but the development has had the strong backing of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat.

Read full article: Councilman will seek to block construction of Towson gas station – Baltimore Sun

Statement from Councilman David Marks: End Review of the Towson Royal Farms Gasoline Station

It is time to bring closure to the controversy over the development of the Royal Farms gasoline station at York Road and Bosley Avenue.

I will introduce at the next County Council meeting a resolution that ends any further review of the gasoline station. I do this for four main reasons.

Lack of Public Support. The original Planned Unit Development legislation, sponsored by then-County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, emphasizes public input and collaboration. An overwhelming number of residents do not want this project to be built. How can its advocates claim with any credibility that this project meets a minimum of community support?

Violation of Council Resolution 113-16. Earlier this spring, the executive branch of government removed approximately 30 mature trees, with no public notice and in violation of clear direction from the County Council. The removal of the trees eliminated a major hurdle for the developer, whose attorney later said that even more trees will be destroyed should the project be approved.

Delayed Improvements to Bosley Avenue. The driving conditions on Bosley Avenue are a nightmare, yet when I asked the Deputy County Administrative Officer about plans to resurface the corridor, his response was that improvements would occur after Towson Station was finished. Given the likelihood of appeals, this means that Bosley Avenue will continue to deteriorate for at least two or three years.

Our transportation network is key to redevelopment in Downtown Towson. The continued collapse of Bosley Avenue will be a drag on all future growth—as well as the quality of life of established businesses and neighborhoods.

Long-Term Litigation. The contract of sale for this property requires approval of the Planned Unit Development by next year. That is highly unlikely. Towson Station is a lower-quality, and more controversial, project than other Planned Unit Developments that have been proposed in Towson. This project will be fought long and hard. Neighborhood associations should not have to exhaust tens of thousands of dollars opposing this project, and Baltimore County should not have to deal with the uncertainty of waiting years to receive profits from the sale of this land.

The County Executive was right in 2013 when he argued that the county property at York Road and Bosley Avenue was not being utilized for its highest and best use. But he was also right when, as a Councilman, he proposed the Planned Unit Development law that encourages high-quality developments with broad public support.

It is time to turn the page on the Royal Farms gasoline station.

David Marks
Baltimore County Councilman, Fifth District
400 Washington Avenue
Towson, MD  21204
(410) 887-3384
dmarks@baltimorecountymd.gov
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/countycouncilmandavidmarks
On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/david_s_marks