Zoning Referendum Proponents Deliver 70,000 Petition Signatures

Group needs nearly 29,000 verified signatures of registered county voters to place zoning issues in the 2nd and 6th Council Districts on the 2014 ballot.

UPDATED (9:03 p.m.)—A developer-backed group that hopes to force two zoning bills to the 2014 ballot has delivered the first installment of signatures to the Baltimore County Board of Elections.

The Committee for Zoning Integrity announced in a statement Friday that it submitted 34,000 signatures for the petition on the 6th district zoning issues and another 36,662 on the 2nd Council District zoning bill to the board of elections, according to an email Friday night from Stuart Kaplow, attorney for the group.

By law, the group needs to collect 28,826 signatures of registered Baltimore County voters for each bill within 45 days of the county executive signing the bills.

The group can extend the deadline by 30 days if it submits at least 9,513 signatures by Monday.

“Baltimore County citizens have embraced our effort, we have achieved this first milestone with little resistance and this achievement represents a significant victory in our program,”  Shirley Supik, a community activist and chair of the Committee for Zoning Integrity, Inc., said in a statement. “It is clear that the zoning process in Baltimore County is broken. This is the first step in fixing the way we rezone.”

David S. Brown Enterprises and The Cordish Companies are seeking to overturn bills that rezoned nearby properties that could be redeveloped and ultimately compete with their projects.

The Committee for Zoning Intergrity is backed by developers who are seeking to overturn zoning decisions made by the council last month.

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.

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.

No county law, much less a zoning bill, has ever been petitioned to referendum in Baltimore County.

The New York-based owner of the Middle River Depot purchased airtime on local radio stations asking county resident not to sign the petition.

Another group calling itself the Don't Sign It! Coalition is also asking residents to not sign the petition.

"This is a real affront to the zoning process," said Ruth Goldstein, a Pikesville community activist who helped organize the coalition said in an interview last week. She added that the process "could afford to be fixed but not by David S. Brown and David Cordish, who are probably the biggest two beneficiaries of it."

If the bills are successfully placed on the ballot, voters across the county would be asked to vote to approve or reject the bills which affect a number of properties in the 2nd and 6th Council Districts.

Supik, in her statement Friday, said the Committee for Zoning Integrity will continue for a few more days to buttress the filing and in anticipation of challenges to ensure extra signatures."


Editor's note: This story was updated to correct an error on the number of signatures sent to the board of elections. The original number used was contained in a statement emailed by the Committee for Zoning Integrity.

Chuck Burton October 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Except it may ultimately hurt the "big boys" too, by driving away customers, tenants and workers who don't really want to shop, live or work in areas with few amenities.
traffictraffic October 13, 2012 at 09:54 PM
The REAL issue in this situation has been deflected again -- namely, traffic and how Reisterstown Road will support the dramatic influx of cars (and delivery trucks) that Foundry Row will assuredly bring. The developers of Foundry Row have promised a traffic study, but have not delivered it. They suggest they will kick-in $7 million to fix the nearby roads, when experts say $56 million is needed. For those of you that regularly travel that area, can you imagine adding nearly 400,000 square feet of retail space -- the equivalent of nearly THREE Wegmans -- to an intersection that is already failing? No one has ever said they don't want Wegmans in Owings Mills. But, not there. Show me the traffic study!
Buzz Beeler October 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM
chuck, it's about time the people started to learn a thing or two about their government. This country was built on the foundation of the vote. Shame on the clueless. If the people don't like the "big boys", vote them out - sure! Most people don't even know who their councilperson is. The city turnout was a disgrace as was the county primary.
Chuck Burton October 14, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Greenberg Gibbons has vounteered to add extra lanes to its side of Reisterstown and Painters Mill Rds and add left turn lanes and a traffic light, thus relieving many of the problems around that intersection They can probably do this as a private company, even to state and county sfandards, for somewhat less than government agencies with appertaining waste. They can't do anything about the parts of the roads away from their own property. The $56 million project refers to work all the way up to Owings Mills Blvd, and perhaps a bit farther south of Foundry Row. so at least the state and county should save $7 million on the whole project.
Chuck Burton October 14, 2012 at 12:40 AM
The "big boys" are not subject to the vote, unfortunately. They are the ones who tell the politicians which way to vote if they want those nice "contributions".
Blue Alpha October 14, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Chuck - not sure what plan you're looking at but GG is not planning on widening Reisterstown Road. They plan on eliminating a left turn onto St. Thomas (who knows where all that tyical traffic will go) and use the turn lane as an extra lane. Hunt Valley has 9 lanes from 83 to the town center - this is no where near that. Also, there is no turn lane from Painters Mill - it is eliminated and all right turning vehicles need to wait for the light to turn. The 4th light on Painters Mill in 500 yards will not solve anything but make it worse. GG's road behind Wegmans dead ends into the Wal-Mart and has no right to go thru Wal-Mart. GG is trying to get the State to pay for Reisterstown Road work - the $7M is a lot of on site road work. Also, the County makes developers fix intersections away from their site affected by a new development all the time. Please get your facts right at the same time you're accusing others of distorting the truth.
mall man October 14, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Chuck. Sorry bud. You are dead wrong. No one from GG is planning on widening Rtown Road. Where did you see that besides lying press releases. If you think the State or County have that money, think again. I love Wegmans and if that were all it would be great but they are planning on adding a LOT more than a Wegmans. The traffic will be a nightmare. If GG puts in all of the money necessary according to an INDEPENDENT analysis of traffic needs than I am all for it. Show the study, show the money. Otherwise, dont believe it.
Buzz Beeler October 14, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Chuck they are subject to our vote, not the developers or special interest. When enough people learn how to watch, they will learn how to govern.
Maryland October 14, 2012 at 10:20 AM
Let's attribute these quotes: "$56 million is needed to fix the roads" - Say No To Solo press release "No one has ever said they don't want Wegmans in Owings Mills, but not there." - Shirley Supik "Show me the traffic study" - Shirley Supik So who, exactly, is deflecting again? The only thing that's changed is Howard Brown is signing the checks instead of Kimco. And that arbitrary $56 million number actually evolved from $30M to $35M and upward as Say No To Solo realized they weren't getting any traction. And the plan that GG released (yes, released) shows land conveyed for the widening of Reisterstown Road. Patch covered it, so you should really be able to find it.
Chuck Burton October 14, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Buzz, I believe Shawan Rd has 3 thru lanes eastbound from I-83 to the mall, plus 2 right turn lanes into McCormick Dr, and 2 thru lanes westbound plus a right turn and a left turn lane. That does total your 9. GG's chart of proposed road improvements shows they would give up land to build a second left turn lane from Reisterstown Rd to Painters Mill Rd, plus right turns into Foundry Row and to the new service road next to St Thomas center. (mall man take note) They would also have TWO right turn lanes from Painters Mill to Reisterstown with NO traffic lights. The new traffic light at the service road by the RR tracks could be a problem, but modern electronic controls should alleviate it. And I douibt if Walmart is stupid enough not to take advantage of the new service road. Also, if the county or state wants to make GG do anything about intersections away from GG's property, they would have to give GG rights of eminent domain over any affected public or private property. Otherwise GG could do nothing.
Chuck Burton October 14, 2012 at 03:42 PM
True enough, but most people vote for whoever they find most personally appealing, so long as they haven't actually been convicted of some major crime.
takeacloserlook October 14, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Chuck: You are so right! Because one "big boy" got one councilperson on their side, we now all face this mess. Councilmatic courtesy then ensued and the zoning was approved. Now, thanks to the referendum, the general public will finally have their say. Maybe the system will indeed work in the end.
carollert October 14, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I was approached at Giant St. Thomas by a young woman who said that the petition was merely to make sure there was more community input on zoning issues. When I read the petition, I realized that she was lying to me, and I did not sign. I have to wonder how many more people signed without reading it. Darcy, sorry you were misled. The information you were looking for was on the back of the form she had you sign.
M October 14, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Seems to me like adding Wegman's to the Owings Mills Mall might be the compromise which fixes more than one set of problems... and dilutes the traffic issues too. Has anyone looked into that?
Chuck Burton October 14, 2012 at 08:36 PM
How many times does Wegmans have to say they want nothing do do with a failing Mall?
Blue Alpha October 14, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Chuck - about as many times as they said No to Hunt Valley Mall - which was a lot - until the County said they could not go to Padonia Road. Also, you have so many facts wrong about Solo that it makes these blogs so unbelievable. First of all - GG is adding a 4th traffic light on Painters Mill between Dolfield, Music Fair and Reisterstown - no device is making that reasonable. They also are not adding any new lanes on Reisterstown Road - too expensive for them to move BGE poles and lose land. The right turn lanes from Painters Mill to Reisterstown dead end into the intersection - there is NO merge lane on Reisterstown Road - these cars have to wait for a green light to merge onto Reisterstown Road. As for eminent domain on other intersections, the County and/or the State have rights of way dedicated to them The County can make GG use the rights of way and pay for the work. Also, do you have any idea who owns the Wal-Mart site and controls the access - Cordish and Brown - think they're going to want a service road for Wegmans thru their site? What good is a dead end service road - all of the traffic goes back to Painters Mill or Reisterstown. Please try to understand you're dealing with complicated matters and your facts should be right before statements are made.
Rebecca Armenta October 14, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I agree with Charles Schrumpf. My husband and I moved here over two years ago seeing all the potential. It's very discouraging to see the petition. Although, it does seem many people were mislead and that makes me feel better. Who doesn't want our area to grow and make it more desirable for people to live and stay!
traffictraffictraffic October 14, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Please, enough with the mis-led claim. You are insulting everyone's intelligence to suggest that 70,000 signatures are the result of mis-leading practices. Did you not get an index card that outlined the situation, quite clearly? Did you not visit the www.fixthemaps.com website? When it comes to mis-leading information, start with the lack of a traffic study to look at the Painters Mill/RR intersection. It has not been done.
Chuck Burton October 15, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Blue Alpha, I spoke about the new traffic light at the new service road and modern controls should make it viable. GG is adding one new left turn lane on Reisterstown Rd between St Thomas La and Painters Mill Rd. That does seem to eliminate the one very short merge lane for right turn traffic from Painters Mill into Reisterstown. Maybe it would actually be better if the state required a traffic light for that traffic - it could be done, and might actually be a good thing. The county does not have control over Reisterstown Rd - it's a state highway - and GG would have a good argument against the state if it tried to make them pay more than a small part of any costs for work away from the immediate area of Foundry Row. Also, the new service road behind the Row would simply be using an existing intersection into the access road to the Walmart parking lot between St Thomas Center and Home Depot. And if Brown and Cordish want to take on Walmart, guess who would win?
Blue Alpha October 15, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Chuck - you're kidding - right. The new left turn lane is the old middle lane whch is eliminated with the concrete median GG is putting in Reisterstown Road. Thousands of cars a week make a left from Reisterstown Road onto St. Thomas or a left from St. Thomas to Reisterstown Road. Where are those cars going with a concrete median stopping them. Well the only answer will be Owings Mills Blvd or Greenspring Valley Road - neither of which can handle that traffic. The State should require a new light at St. Thomas. Also, you must know nothing about the development business. The State and the County make developers pay for things like off site roads and utilities all the time. As for Wal-Mart - they have a lease - they don't own. Right now the road you speak about serves Wal-Mart clients leaving to Reisterstown Road between. Home Depot and the Giant center. There is no way Wal-Mart will want their parking lot - yes the access road goes thru their lot and has spaces backing into it becoming a thoroughfare for pass thru traffic. I imagine Brown and Cordish's lease does not allow Wal-Mart to give anyone rights over their property. Ask a GG representative if they have the right to go through Wal-Mart - I'd be interested in knowing the answer.
Chuck Burton October 15, 2012 at 02:03 PM
So you want three traffic lights in a little over a hundred yards! I think the state had plans to eliminate left turns at St Thomas La, anyway - they made things too hard to accomodate. As for Walmart, they have their new store a couple of miles away on Liberty Rd, so could pay off their lease (chump change for them) and shut down. Relocate Sams Club. Then you have another big empty building like SOLO, going to ruin in the RR corridor, and even less shopping to bring people into the area and occupy space in Mr Brown's Metro Centre. And the new road uses an existing intersection that serves the big warehouse. Could Brown close it? Does he really want to cut his own throat to beat GG? It wouldn't hurt GG all that much to abandon the Row , anyway - they have many other interests such as that huge Waugh Chapel center in AA county that is going blockbusters. It's getting a new Wegmans.
nothowitworks October 15, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Chuck: You continue to demonstrate how little you understand about retailing and real estate. Wal-Mart knows exactly where its customers come from and where and when it should open a new or expanded store. The new Liberty Road location represents a new market for them, and is not a replacement for the one in Owings Mills. They open multiple stores to "block out" competition of their concept, specifically Target. Using your argument, why would Wegmans come to Owings Mills when they have Hunt Valley? You are a passionate community member and care about where you live, which is great. We need more people like you.
Chuck Burton October 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Walmart doesn't seem to have been very successful in "blocking out" Target, since Target has two stores in the Reisterstown Rd corridor to Walmart's one. And, I suppose Wegmans wants to come to Owings Mills because they identify a desireable market area between Hunt Valley and Columbia.I suppose that is why Giant has four stores in the corridor and Food Lion has two.
Jill Dudley Cohen October 15, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I was approached by the pushy lady with the clipboard weeks ago at the Pikesville Giant. The stupid "sheeple" she approached were all signing. I surprised her by saying that I trust Vicki Almond to make the right decision.
Needaname October 15, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I approached by a pudgy man at the Shoppers Food Market located in Towson on Goucher Blvd and Joppa Road. That man even asked me out for coffee.
maddmaxx1313 October 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Chuck - I'm actually on board with what you're saying...especially regarding the walmart situation. Living between the two locations I will choose to go to the new super walmart where I can do all of my shopping rather than the rundown walmart on reisterstown road. However, I'm sure this walmart will be just as rundown in a matter of time so back to Target it will be for me. As far as the petition, it sickens me that they felt the need to go as far as misleading people to get the signatures. And for those of you saying people weren't misled...you are probably the very ones who were out there vaguely informing the public why you were looking for signatures in areas where the people could care less.
Buzz Beeler October 18, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Dumbos, you mean these dumbos who are paying for the rest like your buddies. The only dream is the dream of having what your so called dumbos have. Kinda like Santa Klaus with an empty bag. Numbers don't lie. http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/21/news/economy/wealth-gap-race/index.htm
Steve October 18, 2012 at 07:16 PM
That's too funny coming from a Dumbo that spent his whole life sucking from the Government's teat..
Chuck Burton October 18, 2012 at 07:23 PM
You know what they say, Buzz: "Liers number.. and their numbers lie".
WhoAreYouKidding October 24, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Blue Alpha, Traffictraffic, Nothowitworks - It's not hard to tell what side you're apparently working for.


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