The Reisterstown and Owings Mills community has shown its support for revamping the Owings Mills mall and bringing Wegmans to town. But not all development is created equal.
When it comes to building in rural areas or putting a 24-hour convenience store near an elementary school, the opposition Thursday night became vocal.
The issues in question:
--The rezoning of a property on Reisterstown Road that could give way to the opening of a Royal Farms grocery and gas station near Cedarmere Elementary School.
--The rezoning of land at the intersection of Nicodemus Road and Berrymans Lane that could mean two residential lots per acre in a rural area.
Every four years, the county conducts a Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, also known as CZMP. Through that process, any citizen can submit a petition to request a change to the zoning on any given piece of property.
The Baltimore County Planning Board holds a public hearing in each of the councilmanic districts during the CZMP process, and that occurred for the Fourth District Thursday night at Woodlawn High School.
“The safety of our students obviously is a concern of ours,” said Stacy Deems, president of the Cedarmere Elementary School PTA.
“Based on the limited information we have right now…we are highly opposed to this issue. The main concern is the neighborhood traffic,” she said.
The property in question is the site of Captain Harvey’s Restaurant. Deems said owners expressed to her that they want to relocate to another nearby site and sell the property. The owners said Royal Farms has expressed interest in the property, Deems said.
The site, which is a short walk from Cedarmere Elementary School, is currently where the school stages emergency evacuations, a practice that would most likely cease if Royal Farms took the spot. Several other parents and PTA members spoke of traffic concerns as well as possible vandalism to the school from late-night patrons.
Residents also expressed concerns about traffic at what they said was an already dangerous intersection. Going south, Reisterstown Road goes uphill and ends in a crest just after the property. Were a traffic light to be added – there is already a flashing yellow light – residents were concerned that cars traveling north wouldn’t have enough time to stop.
“This is not a place for [Royal Farms] to be,” said Carmita Vogel, mother of a Cedarmere student.
George Harman, president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council, spoke out against rezoning the Captain Harvey’s property, and also against the rezoning of the nearly 13-acre property at the corner of Berrymans Lane and Nicodemus Road. The proposal is to change the zoning from RC 4, watershed protection, to DR 2, density residential, allowing two units per acre.
“We’re very much opposed to anything of this nature outside the URDL,” Harman said. The URDL is the urban-rural demarcation line, which prevents extending water and sewer lines into rural areas. Harman said a covenant with the developer may help, but his organization does not want to open up development outside of the URDL.
Lynda Eisenberg, a member of the Berrymans Grant Homeowners Association, said the zoning request is inconsistent with the surrounding area.
“The up zoning of this parcel could potentially allow an additional 24 housing units to the property, increasing traffic on an already burdened rural road, increase student enrollment to an already overcrowded elementary school and strain an overloaded water supply,” she said.
Development is the talk of the town lately. Kimco and General Growth Properties plan to redevelop the Owings Mills mall and David S. Brown Enterprises is building the Metro Centre project. Foundry Row—the development where the Wegmans store would be located at the former Solo Cup site—would have to be rezoned from a manufacturing to a business classification in order for Wegmans to open.
The District 2 planning board hearing will be held on Thursday, March 29, at Pikesville High School. Sign-up begins at 6 p.m. and the hearing starts at 7 p.m.