Ken Oliver Calls for Delay on Solo Cup Rezoning

Baltimore County Councilman Kenneth Oliver is asking his colleagues to delay rezoning Solo Cup for retails as Reisterstown Road traffic studies get completed.

Councilman Kenneth Oliver asked his colleagues to delay a decision on rezoning the Solo Cup property in Owings Mills for retail development until a state traffic study is completed.

Oliver said he wants to give transportation officials time to finish studying and engineering traffic improvements on “the already overwhelming traffic congestion along Reisterstown Road” in a press release Tuesday. He said it would be premature to rezone a manufacturing property prior to the completion of those processes.

“When we are talking about potentially committing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the traffic from a developer’s proposed private project, we need to fully understand the facts and the costs,” Oliver said in the release.

In the release, Oliver mentions that last week, to design and engineer improvements to the intersection of Reisterstown and Painters Mill Roads. The intersection near the former Solo Cup plant has been a point of contention for residents and others in regard to the Wegmans-anchored Foundry Row project proposed for the area.

Oliver also mentioned the $500,000 state study of traffic along the Reisterstown Road corridor, which Sen. Bobby Zirkin pushed for in the 2012 General Assembly session. While the study is not mandated, it would look at Reisterstown Road from Owings Mills Boulevard to I-695 in Pikesville and would include analysis of current and proposed development over the next 20 years.

The county and lawyers representing Greenberg Gibbons, who want to redevelop the Solo Cup property, opposed the state study.

Zirkin, in an interview Tuesday, said the study ultimately approved in the state budget is needed but not as extensive as he wanted.

"These roads can't handle the (expected) traffic," Zirkin said. "You'd have to be a moron to think that the roads can handle that kind of traffic."

The state Department of Transportation is expected to complete that study by December 1, 2012.

Brian Gibbons, president and CEO of Foundry Row developer Greenberg Gibbons Commercial, said Oliver’s plea “makes no sense,” since his development will still have to earn State Highway Administration approvals before building.

Greenberg Gibbons plans to invest approximately $7 million in to solve traffic woes around its property. The developer submitted traffic plans to the Baltimore County Planning Board prior to its decision to .

“The intersection of Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill Road will be better off with our project and our improvements than it would be if the project never happened,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons also noted that the 385,000 square feet of retail proposed for Foundry Row would generate less traffic than a manufacturing operation or office space in the current Solo Cup buildings. Both uses are allowed under current zoning, he said. Greenberg Gibbons plans to share its traffic statistics with Patch this week.

Officials from both Kimco, the company proposing to revamp the Owings Mills Mall, and David S. Brown, the company building the transit-oriented development , have argued that Foundry Row would and create additional problems, such as traffic congestion and excess retail and office space.

Baltimore County Political Reporter Bryan Sears contributed to this report.

Chuck Burton June 20, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Because he's a politician, and he's always willing to spend taxpayers' money if he thinks it might get him a few votes.
Sher Katz June 20, 2012 at 11:52 PM
didn't Kimco come into the picture AFTER Greenberg Gibbons bought Solo and AFTER Wegmans signed the agreement for Foundry Row? Why would they invest the money into the mall property knowing all this if they were just going to complain about it, as they are now. It's not like it was a secret-its been all over the news.
Kelvin June 21, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Which is exactly why I voted for Julian Earl Jones... Not to mention violating the county charter by being on the State's payroll and lying about it. If only more people did some homework before going to the polls :(
Sher Katz June 21, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I'm in support of all projects BUT it seems like Mr. Oliver is making a big ta-do about nothing. The Metro Centre which is less than a mile from Foundry Row/Solo is going to be huge! Some where around 2 million square feet? Library, CCBC, a hotel, apartments, retail, restaurants, commerical space, etc. And David Brown's website says there are 160,000 consumers within a 5 mile radius. With Foundry Row being about 25% of the size of the Metro Centre how is this an issue? The traffic will be going to the Metro Centre anyway. If the roads can support the traffic for the Metro Centre surely it can support it for Foundry Row.
Chuck Burton June 21, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Sher Katz, you are able to put 2 and 2 together and come up with 4 - Mr Oliver would come up with anything his big supporters wanted him to.
Sher Katz June 21, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Okay Chuck, hoping you aren't insulting me. Also Kimco purchased 50% of the OM Mall months after Greenberg Gibbons closed on the Solo property and announced their intentions. So why did they purchase it knowing this? Isn't Kimco one of the largest owners of shopping malls in the US? The other mall owners also own Harborplace. So there is some major financial backing for the mall, they should just extend the housing that is around the mall and put in some decent restaurants, clean up that parking lot, upgrade the theater, put in some green space, maybe a public park or walking area. So many things they can do, I don't understand why Foundry Row is such an issue for them.
Chuck Burton June 21, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Certainly not insulting you - just wondering who is supporting Mr. Oliver in his opposition. And I have stated my thoughts elsewhere that the Mall property is better situated to be high density office and residential (like an extention of Metro Centre) with only incidental retail (similar to what you suggest).
Sher Katz June 21, 2012 at 11:30 PM
The Say No to Solo Coalition supports Mr. Oliver. They have a link to this article on their facebook page. They also have, what seems to be 100 signs around Garrison Forest Plaza, plus a couple of larger signs. It's an obnoxious display in my opinion. Makes me not want to go to any of the merchants there. Maybe I'll shop in Hunt Valley this weekend.
Chuck Burton June 22, 2012 at 12:39 AM
So, I guess Safeway must be one backer of Say No To Solo - who else? I hardly ever go to them, even though they are closest, because, except for sale items, I find their prices too high. Interesting that you'll pass up area stores in favor of Hunt Valley (Wegmans?).
Zoobie June 22, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Delay, Delay, Delay ! Meanwhile, former employees of SOLO will have to wait for work at that location. Shouldn't Employment be the primary reason for development ? Just remember."De-feet goes over de-fence before de-tail." And what we have here Politics gumming-up the road to Employment, plain and simple. An empty property generates no taxes, and meanwhile Unemployment is still 8.5+ %. Go figure !!!
Chuck Burton June 22, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Excellent point!! The Solo site can begin producing construction jobs almost immediately, and permanent retail jobs within a couple of years How many years would it require to lure some manufacturer to this site? And then, after the construction period, the new plant would be largely automated and hire relatively few employees!
Sher Katz June 22, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Another point to be made...Greenberg Gibbons and Vanguard are both companies located in Maryland-Owings Mills and Baltimore respectively. Owners of the mall-General Growth based out of chicago (also owns harbor place and the gallery at theh inner harbor) and Kimco is based out of Hyde NY (they own the largest portfolio of commerical properties in North America) --my point is who will be using more locals as employees for the construction phase?
Vanita Foster June 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Sher Katz as a homeowner in the Owings Mills area I absolutely love your idea on what can be done with the OM mall space. I basically go to Columbia on the weekends because they have a nice blend of shopping, restaurants, theaters and parks. I'm very disappointed in how the promises of what Owings Mills was supposed to become have fizzled. Has anyone noticed the trash on the streets and the grass and weeds that are allowed to grow on the traffic medians? Perhaps some of the big wigs of Baltimore County should take lessons from the big wigs in Howard County who seem to get it right!
Chuck Burton June 22, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Speaking of fizzles, a few years ago, Walgreens was supposed to build on the opposite corner from Solo - what happened? And Rite-Aid by Tollgate? Are they casualties of Mr. Oliver's long delayed traffic studies?
ab June 23, 2012 at 09:46 AM
If you build it right, they will come! Our area will flourish despite woes of over growth, it is time to set aside fear and pursue what our area deserves. Why delay our growth and allow other areas where as Wegmans has risen and helped fourish such as hunt valley, belair, Columbia continue to deeply root their economic stability. Owings Mills resident opposing growth despite fear of traffic is getting utterly ridiculous. Look at other areas. The certain is, without growth we will fail as a community. With it, we can at least compete at best. Give us a fighting chance.
ab June 23, 2012 at 09:46 AM
At first I was against Wegmans. Being an owner of a store located within Owings Mills Mall for 7yrs I hated the fact that General Growth had doubt to redevelopment if Wegmans came. OMM mall needs a redevelopment. Yet, I had a change of mind when I realized GGP/ Kimco has not relished pas opportunity to proceed with redevelopment. The stalling has been an ongoing issue. Owings Mills deserves to fourish by any means necessary. Investors should help us either get in line with other communities or fall behind. The choice is ours. We don't really have to choose a project. Politicians & investors would like us too. Yet, all 3 projects will succeed just fine. Our community with the addition of Stevenson Univ corridor will flourish. Fear is our kryptonite, yet 'Growth' should be our ambition despite all. Councilman seem to be having a sword fight b/c these projects are in different districts despite being in the same corridor. Who cares? Get it right! Success is in our economic growth. It is healthy for retailers to compete for the business of patrons. It forces the hand of novelty and fair price. So ONWARD with all projects!
ab June 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM
The new mall should be less retail, more restaurant driven with a lake and greenspace park area, focus more on family entertainment, and tie in with ambiance of a high class technology experience. New tech driven angle! Live band area out door seating and ampitheater/ and or high tech sports complex which our area desperately needs. We should give our kids an area to train, compete, and play any sport of choice ALL YEAR round! There is money in this ideal community. WE MUST GET THIS CONCEPT RIGHT! Invest in our kids in hope to enrich the legacy of our future.
Tracie June 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Wegmans need to keep it real as to why they don't want to go to the mall since that was an original option...its all about districting...They don't want Wegmans to be in District 4- which includes areas such as Randallstown...they want it in District 2... there's no logical reason why they would not be happy less than a mile away...it's about location...and demographics...
Tracie June 23, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Has anyone thought about what the Resiterstown corridfor is gonna look if Wegmans closes...giant and safeway will surely close and it will look like the ole Shoppers on Reistertown Road...and probably the other stores in those shopping centers....has anyone even thought about that? And do you honestly think Wegmans will hire former Solo folk....or any of the other folk who will be displaced once Wegmans takes over? Doubt it...I can't wait for them to put a traffic light right at St Thomas and Reisterstown Road so that the traffic will flow better...the Valley residents are gonna go off...because traffic will come pass right through that quiet little area... wake up peopld...don't drink the KoolAid
Tracie June 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM
(First sentence) If wegmans opens...sorry for the typo...I know how you bloggers get...
Sher Katz June 23, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Actually that light at St. Thomas and Reisterstown Road was taken off the table in April of this year. Foundry Row developers submitted another set of traffic plans April 25, 2012. So that's a mute point. Been in Giant or Safeway lately? I've been and it really wasn't the most positive experience. Was in Giant yesterday-not enough cashiers-one employee bumped into me and then looked at me as if I ran over their cat-I apologized and all they did was glare at me and she was the one that bumped into me! I purchased 1 lemon, 2 tomatoes, 1 cake mix, 1 bag of chocolate chips=almost $10!! And I had to check myself out. Safeway-was there last week-prices are way too high-only good to buy the sale stuff or if you need flowers. And the majority of the cashiers there give you attitude, never enough cashiers and never ever anyone at the service desk.
Sher Katz June 23, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Owners of the mall declared bankruptcy several years ago-would you rent from them knowing they could walk away or fail to keep up their end of the bargain? If the mechanics go in the building would they repair them?? They can't and don't even keep their parking lot clean. Its disgusting there.
Chuck Burton June 23, 2012 at 02:03 PM
At least, Sher, you can check yourself out at Giant. I gave up on the St Thomas Giant, mostly because of having 6 traffc lights on the way, even though it's closer than Cherry Valley Giant.on back streets with only a few Stop signs, and Aldis is just across the street. And, as you indicate, a better atmosphere, though the service desk is often busy with long winded Western Union moneygrams. So, I guess I'd have 5 traffic lights between me and Wegmans, but I'd stil likely go there at least every couple of weeks (I currently go to Hunt Valley every month or so).
Sher Katz June 23, 2012 at 02:15 PM
OH the St. Thomas Giant...haven't been there in years, last time I went in...well lets just say they needed a visit from a pest control company-it was disgusting. Our household does our shopping this way- once every 6 weeks or so a run to Trader Joes and to Wegmans-we get the majority of our items that way. Then once a week a visit to the produce market near Franklin on Reisterstown Road, a trip to Walmart to fill in and then a quick trip to Safeway for their sale items. But Safeway or any other merchant in that development isn't getting our money again until all those obnoxious orange say no to solo signs are taken down-isn't it enough they put up those billboards? I totally get why Safeway would be against it but really do they need 100 signs? It's bothersome that even they don't feel their arguments are strong enough that they have to go to that extent.
Buck Harmon June 23, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Sher Katz, You should start a weekly shoppers blog, reading of your shopping experiences, and sharing "where the deals are" is interesting and could be of value..
Catherine Ridgely June 23, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Wegmans will bring jobs that are needed for our area. Everytime we get a chance to get somthing good in this area the politicians stick their nose in it and we don't get it. We get something else that goes out of business and becomes another eye sore along RR
Buck Harmon June 23, 2012 at 02:37 PM
All things tied to this type of development process evolve around pocket lining in one form or another, you know...give and take... politicians indirectly included..
Chuck Burton June 23, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Politicians ( an increasingly obscene word) don't GIVE anything, but they are always ready to take.
Adam Thomas June 24, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Drive 20 minutes to Hunt Valley...it's not far! First world problems...
Pamela F June 25, 2012 at 05:22 AM


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