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Substation Could Prevent Transit-Oriented Development

BGE's plans to build a substation near West Cold Spring Lane presents a hurdle to a local developer.

A local developer wants to build an apartment and retail complex off West Cold Spring Lane, but BGE’s plans to build a substation nearby is complicating matters.

Landex Companies wants to build a development with 250 market rate apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space west of Interstate 83 and south of West Cold Spring Lane because of the proximity to the Cold Spring Light Rail stop.

But BGE plans to build a substation on land it owns next to the proposed development, and Landex officials are concerned that it would cause problems aesthetically, and with marketability.

Judy Siegel, chairwoman of Landex, was critical of BGE’s plans for the land during a meeting of the Roland Park Civic League on Thursday.

"It’s not a good use of the land," Siegel said.

Milton Branson, BGE’s manager of local affairs, argued that the company was open to discussions with the developer and surrounding communities, but the company’s options are limited.

He said the company needs a substation in that area because of an increase in anticipated workload in the future, and because the current substation in the area was built in 1972 and is quickly becoming antiquated.

There was hope that a land swap between Baltimore City and BGE could have paved the way for a solution. The deal would have involved the city—which owns nearby land that is used as a site to dispose of trees and other organic matter—exchanging land with BGE.   

But that option is apparently a non-starter after BGE hired Greenhorne and O’Mara consulting engineers to perform an assessment of the city’s land and found it was unsuitable to build a substation on.

The study concluded the land wasn’t suitable for a substation because there are 20 feet of organic debris—which would be too costly for BGE to remove—on the site causing it to be unstable, Branson said.

Additionally, Branson added, there are wetlands on the property and a pipeline running through the land that would hinder construction.

Both sides stressed that plans for a development or the construction of a new substation were still in the preliminary stages, and that there was time to sort things out.

Siegel said Lanex currently has three of five acres of the site under contract from the property owner, and is performing its due dilligence before committing any further to the project.

"This is like putting a puzzle together," Siegel said.

But there is a time element because BGE wants to break ground on the substation within two years and complete it by 2016.

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Gordon Steen June 08, 2012 at 01:31 PM
How about a below ground substation?
Adam Bednar June 08, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Gordon, BGE seemed resistant to ideas that would add costs to building the substation.
Steve June 08, 2012 at 11:00 PM
What are they planning on doing with that huge assed Gas Holder on the property? That used to hold 1 day's worth of gas for the entire City of Baltimore. The site is horribly environmentally contaminated.
Adam Bednar June 08, 2012 at 11:08 PM
They intend to start demolishing it. I can't remember exactly when, but I remember them saying it would be pretty soon.
Steve June 09, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Somebody should declare it historical. It's the last one of it's kind in the US.

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