Sixty people spoke out during a public hearing Thursday in Pikesville regarding Baltimore County's Comprehensive Zoning & Mapping Process for District 2.
That's a significant number of speakers, compared to the 13 who signed up to speak during the 5th District's CZMP meeting on Monday.
While the District 2 meeting dealt with 35 zoning issues, 68 percent of the speakers voiced their support or opposition to the proposed Foundry Row project along Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills.
For the project to begin, the former Solo Cup manufacturing land, now owned by Greenberg Gibbons and scheduled to be developed along with Vanguard, must be rezoned from its current manufacturing to a business zone.
Those who spoke about the project displayed divided opinions, similar to those heard earlier this year during the Baltimore County Planning Board phase of the CZMP.
Vote No on Solo
Some said they oppose Foundry Row, that would include a Wegmans grocery store anchor as well as a fitness anchor and sports retail anchor stores, because consumers have limited dollars to spend on retail, dining and entertainment.
A new development would take consumers and their finite amount of money away from existing businesses, opponents said.
Carol Holland, who lives on High Meadow Road in District 3, spoke against the project.
She said she's an employee of Giant Food in the St. Thomas Shopping Center next to the proposed Foundry Row site. She said she's worried about losing her job and "about the success of the entire shopping center."
She also said a retail project like Foundry Row will end up creating "a traffic nightmare."
Rena Levin of Boxford Road in Baltimore City urged the council to "find another focus" for the former Solo Cup site.
Vote Is Next
Earlier this month, the county Planning Board recommended to the council that zoning be changed to make way for Foundry Row.
Now it's up to the council to accept or reject the board's recommendation. The council votes on the CZMP on Aug. 28, according to Jonathan Schwartz, senior council assistant.
Foundry Row favored
Those who spoke Thursday in favor of the project said Foundry Row would keep Reisterstown Road corridor consumers in the area.
Noel Levy, of Windsong Court in Pikesville, voiced his support for Foundry Row.
He said that although residents in Pikesville and throughout District 2 have endured a barrage of robocalls and surveys that try to sway residents against the project, he believes the development is needed.
That's because Foundry Row includes a planned widening by two lanes of the congested Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill Road intersection, as well as developing a Foundry Row Boulevard that would run behind a neighboring shopping center that includes Home Depot.
"We need a Wegmans," he said, noting that several grocery stores have closed in recent years, including a Weis Market and Shopper's Food in the Owings Mills area, as well as a Safeway in Pikesville.
A group of residents, many from Districts 3 and 4, and some from District 2, spoke out against Foundry Row. Several who spoke, including Holland, wore T-shirts with the slogan "Vote No On Solo" from the Say No To Solo coalition.
About a dozen people in the audience held signs and wore the same shirts.
Outside the school, signs that said "Vote No On Solo" lined the sidewalk.
Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, who represents the 2nd District, is likely the council member to whom the other six will turn for guidance when voting on 2nd District CZMP issues.
Schwartz, who is Almond's assistant, said Wednesday during an interview about the meeting, "Anything we can do to keep people in the Reisterstown Road corridor will be a boon to local business, including Pikesville."