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Pilot Program Could Expand Main Street Business

Baltimore County planning officials told Reisterstown leaders that a program to help expand uses of historic Main Street buildings could start in the fall.

Reisterstown Improvement Association President Glenn Barnes is making sure Baltimore County doesn’t forget about Reisterstown and Main Street.

After meeting with elected officials and county planning and economic officials, Barnes is confident that won’t happen.

“We wanted to make sure they know we’re still here and they’re not going to forget about this Reisterstown revitalization project,” he said.

Last week’s meeting was attended by Barnes; Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce President Brian DeLeonardo; Councilwoman Vicki Almond; her aide, Jonathan Schwartz; Tony Baysmore, special assistant to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; Andrea Van Arsdale, director of the county planning department; and Sara Trenery, a business development representative from county economic development.

Barnes called the meeting to update planning officials on the revitalization efforts already under way in Reisterstown, such as the RIA’s façade improvements, and to get the status on the pilot program for Main Street, which could help expand uses of historic buildings.

The pilot program would look to establish a zoning overlay for Main Street, which would allow historic buildings to expand their uses. The current zoning code restricts uses in old buildings that have features like narrow stairways and narrow driveways.

"What we've started on is looking at setbacks; how far the existing buildings are from the street edge, how far they are from each other, what the scale is, the height and the width of the building, where the parking is located," Jeff Mayhew told Patch in Dec. 2010. He was acting director of the Baltimore County Office of Planning at the time. "We [will] draft a new zoning code that mimics what's in the field and then we [will] present it the stakeholders; the community and property owners."

Mayhew said the zoning overlay would be a new code that is appropriate to the community's scale and character.

In the past, it was questionable whether or not the pilot would happen. Now it's a matter of time. Van Arsdale told Barnes that with a smaller planning department, the department’s focus is on processing all the zoning change requests in the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) until the fall. There are almost 300 requests.

In the meantime, Barnes says property owners on Main Street between Glyndon Drive and Cockeys Mill Road—the target area of the pilot program—will be invited to a meeting with planning officials in the coming months so the department can get an idea of what property owners hope to get out of the program.

Although the program won’t get rolling until after the CZMP process, Barnes is assured that it will happen.

“We just want it on the board,” he said. “It’s not stuck in the file cabinet somewhere.”

Lauretta Nagel February 25, 2012 at 07:38 PM
This is really good news. This zoning overlay came up as one of the higher priorities in the June Community Workshop.

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