Developers Add 83,000 Signatures to Zoning Challenge

Two groups funded by developers, including David S. Brown Enterprises and David Cordish, seek to overturn zoning for the Solo Cup and Middle River Depot properties.

Two groups funded by high-powered developers, say they have nearly 170,000 signatures in their effort to force two zoning issues to the 2014 ballot.

The Committee For Zoning Integrity Inc. said in a statement that they have delivered an additional 83,435 signatures in their effort to challenge zoning decisions in the 2nd and 6th Council Districts.

“We have successfully completed the signature gathering phase, with citizen
interest in fixing the rezoning process in Baltimore County far exceeding our
expectations,” Stuart Kaplow, an attorney for the Committee for Zoning Integrity Inc., said in a statement released Friday morning. “A referendum restores the sense of empowerment and guarantees integrity by direct participation in the decision making process.”

The Committee for Zoning Integrity, backed by David S. Brown Enterprises and David Cordish, is seeking to overturn a bill that changes the zoning on the former Middle River Depot property.

A second but associated group calling itself the committee for Zoning Transparency is seeking to overturn zoning decisions affecting the Solo Cup property.

Both groups combined reported for their effort. All of the money came from developers.

Last month the group delivered more than 86,000 signatures combined from the two separate petition efforts.

The group must have more than 28,825 verified signatures of registered voters for each of the two petition efforts. Kaplow, in his statement, said his clients have delivered more than 85,000 signatures for each bill.

Those signatures still need to be verified by the Baltimore County Board of Elections—an effort that will not begin until after the board has completed its work with the 2012 election.

If the bills are successfuly placed on the ballot, all county voters will be asked to vote for or against them.

The Committee for Zoning Integrity raised $100,000 for efforts to overturn the zoning bill passed for properties in the 6th District which includes Essex, Middle River and Parkville. The same group also put $25,000 towards the effort to overturn the 2nd District zoning bill also passed in August.

In Middle River, Cordish is opposing the redevelopment of the Middle River Depot. The depot, if redeveloped, could result in Walmart leaving its current location in the Carroll Island Shopping Center and moving to the new depot location, Cordish said in July.

Cordish owns the Carroll Island Shopping Center.

A separate group, the Committee for Zoning Transparency, raised more than $100,000 to overturn the decisions for the second district, which includes Owings Mills, Pikesville and Reisterstown.

Brown is the developer of Metro Centre at Owings Mills which is near the former Solo Cup plant that is to be redeveloped into a shopping center called Foundry Row. That project would feature a Wegman's grocery store as its anchor.

Greenberg Gibbons, who wants to redevelop the Solo Cup property, successfully fought in court for the release of the petition signatures and appears to be planning an additional legal challenge to their validity.

fred November 09, 2012 at 05:14 PM
thanks for the story, the folks gathering signatures sort of mislead the people signing. they make it sound like the county is the culprit when all it really is a battle between two developers.
FIFA November 09, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Hopefully everyone will figure out this is exactly like Penn National pouring money into Maryland to oppose the gambling referendum. This is two developers that are unhappy they are going to have competition. Welcome to America.
Sanchez November 09, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Man are you an idiot or what? Foolish idiot.
Mike Pierce November 09, 2012 at 05:49 PM
There needs to be an article on the effective date of the zoning and the actual effect of a referendum vote in 2014. Read the Code, which says that bills that are effective in 45 days are put on hold until the vote, if enough signatures are gathered within that 45 days. However, for bills that are effective in more or less than 45 days (as the zoning bills were), they go into effect until rejected by the vote in 2014. Thus, the Middle River and Solo projects could conceivably be approved before then with the new zoning, and rejecting the change in zoning in 2014 may have no effect on these two projects. But it could have a serious effect on the many other issues in those bills for the 2nd and 6th Districts.
Carole Sacra November 09, 2012 at 11:36 PM
I saw people being approached to sign the petitions. They were asked if they would sign a petition for zoning....that was all he said and people signed the petition...they has no idea what they were signing. If they verify the signature, they will find most are the elderly...they believe what is being said to them....they trust society. Secondly why were the developers gathering signatures that are around 20 or more miles from the area that is the zoning im. ssue
Grace B. November 10, 2012 at 02:48 AM
They were trying to get signatures from voters, during the 2 hours we stood in line for early voting. The fairy tales they were telling people, regarding this zoning issue, were incredible.
JBC November 10, 2012 at 07:23 AM
"Stuart Kaplow, an attorney for the Committee for Zoning Integrity Inc." That's hilarious, Stuart Kaplow is literally Howard Brown's top Attorney. It's so transparent and Orwellian that I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Blue Alpha November 10, 2012 at 02:00 PM
JBC - stop misleading - ask all around Towson who Mr. Brown's main zoning counsel is and you will get a completely different person than Stuart Kaplow. Maybe you should not laugh or cry but look up the word truthful.
Glen November 10, 2012 at 03:27 PM
The truth of the matter is that the people soliciting signatures were not at all forthcoming about who was behind the petition or what it really meant. I was approached numerous times by solicitors for this petition who did not willingly share the language of the petition itself, and tried to lie about who the sponsors were. Someone who does not follow zoning issues would easily be duped by such sleazy tactics.
JBC November 10, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I have asked several friends and acquaintances in Towson, but you're right that I'm generalizing, so I should clarify. It's my understanding the Kaplow's firm has taken the lead on this particular zoning issue.
fred November 10, 2012 at 10:13 PM
when i was approached the first question was are you a baltimore county voter, when challenged back to them and asked if they were there was no answer coming. hired guns.


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