An effort two bring two Baltimore County zoning decision to referendum on the 2014 ballot has been stopped, for now.
While they don’t think the battle is over, Owings Mills and Reisterstown officials think the Baltimore County Board of Elections made the right decision when it deemed the petitions legally deficient on Tuesday.
“I think most of the people at ROG were concerned, as a lot of people were, with the nature of the name collecting,” said George Harman, president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council (ROG). “We thought that the process whereby people may not have been told the truth about what they were seeing brought into question the whole process.”
Two groups backed by developers David S. Brown Enterprises and The Cordish Companies sought to overturn bills that rezoned nearby properties that could be redeveloped and ultimately compete with their projects. In Owings Mills, developer Greenberg Gibbons is proposing to build $140 million retail and office center Foundry Row at the vacant Solo Cup plant, less than a mile away from Brown’s 1.2 million square-foot Metro Centre at Owings Mills.
The board of elections’ attorney, Andrew Bailey, reviewed five challenges to the petition filed by attorneys for Greenberg Gibbons.
“I believe that the form of the petition, as circulated to potential signers, was insufficient to alert them to what exactly they were being asked to petition to a vote,” he wrote.
Shirley Supik, leader of the Say No To Solo Coalition, hopes the opposition will continue its fight.
“I am sorely disappointed, I am not surprised. It is more of the same,” she said. “…Again, the voice of the people is being snuffed out and I think it’s really sad that it is happening.”
Councilwoman Vicki Almond disagrees with Supik, and said that bringing zoning decisions like these to referendum will only hurt Baltimore County and economic development.
“I don’t think there was any way at all this zoning was not at all transparent,” Almond said. “I think the public certainly had every opportunity to speak about every issue they wanted to speak about.”
In Reisterstown, where efforts to revitalize historic Main Street are underway, officials are looking forward to development in Owings Mills spilling over.
“We support the CZMP process,” said Glenn Barnes, president of the Reisterstown Improvement Association. “We also support that board of elections’ decision to not allow the petitions to referendum zoning decisions on the 2014 ballot.”
But regardless of the support the zoning process and Foundry Row has, community activists think that this isn’t it. Given the amount of money and effort poured into the opposition, they don’t think fight is over yet.
“I wish it was,” said Cheryl Aaron, zoning committee chair at the Greater Greenspring Association, “but I suspect that it’s not gonna go away.”