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Community Applauds Referendum Nix

Community leaders in Owings Mills and Reisterstown support the Board of Election’s decision to nix the possibility of bringing two zoning decisions to referendum.

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.”

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ddbs00 February 08, 2013 at 01:31 PM
There's no question the wording on the petition itself was misleading, and the people who were trying to get members of the community to sign it were REALLY misleading in their quest for signatures. I refused to sign when approached, but I watched petitioners approach others for a while and they were reckless in their dishonesty, but got signatures nonetheless.
Tom Hope February 08, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Lets see how Shirley dismisses this one. I'm guessing that the voices of Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council (ROG) don't count to her. So far I am only hearing the voices of those in support of the project. But what do I know, I only seem to be listening to the people in the community. Perhaps I should ask around in Catonsville, White Marsh or Parkville. I'm sure SNTS (Say-No-To-Solo) will rally its troops to put up posts now that it has been pointed out.
Christopher Will February 08, 2013 at 05:45 PM
There is no doubt that this community can support both projects. I travel throughout the country; we are woefully underserved in this area when it comes to quality retail. Let's get them both built and built quickly!
Harlan February 08, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Sure, who needs a proven and successful business like Wegman's in Owings Mills? The mall is doing so well. My wife won't even go to the mall since it started to look like an MS-13 hangout.
EB21117 February 08, 2013 at 09:11 PM
A big haha to Howard Brown and Cordish. Neither have the community's best interest at heart. Rather, greed and money. If they had purchased the Solo location there would be no opposition to the zoning decisions whatsoever. It is cowardice for multi-million dollar builders with their own agendas to hide behind a movement or petition and try to manipulate their way by claiming that "the people" don't want Wegmans or the redevelopment. Shameful and transparent.
BluePeace February 21, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Harlan, that's simply not true. I have been to the mall several times and haven't seen such. Let's just face the truth - the mall was put in a location that's not conducive to attracting the kind of shopping business that was anticipated and expected. Stop making these comments about this mall - we are in a community that's is diverse and with diversity comes challenges. I am sick of these kind of comments - such remarks does no good in this kind of forum.

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