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‘Say No to Solo’ Delivers 7,100 Signatures to the County Council

Leaders of the Say No to Solo Coalition delivered boxes of petitions signed by Baltimore County residents Monday.

Activists fighting the proposed in Owings Mills delivered petitions signed by more than 7,000 Baltimore County residents to the Baltimore County Council Monday afternoon.

Officials from Say No To Solo brought a box for each council member that contained copies of approximately 7,100 signatures of Baltimore County residents who are opposed to Foundry Row, the Wegmans-anchored development Greenberg Gibbons hopes to build at the Solo Cup site on Reisterstown Road. County Council chairwoman Vicki Almond will receive the original petitions, and the other council members will receive copies.

“Vicki Almond kept saying right from the beginning there is no opposition,” said Shirley Supik, leader of the Say No to Solo Coalition. “…I am hoping that the other six members of the council will look at that and say ‘people have spoken out, this should not be a done deal.’”

Supik cites traffic and environmental issues as well as a need for more public process among her concerns. She is critical of developer Greenberg Gibbons for not releasing a traffic study, and instead releasing a that has been conducted. Greenberg Gibbons officials say they will release the study during the development process.

While Say No to Solo has been collecting signatures at shopping centers on Reisterstown Road and using its Facebook page to spread its message, Greenberg Gibbons started its own Facebook page to drum up support for Foundry Row and refute what it says is misleading information from the opposition.

“A petition with clearly misleading information aimed at stopping Wegmans and Foundry Row is being distributed in the Owings Mills area,” read a post from July 20. “After months of push polls, robo-calls and mailers failed to generate support for their special interest group, they have resorted to a deceptive petition.”

There were approximately 2,500 more signatures from residents outside of Baltimore County, Jeff Supik, Shirley’s husband, said.

DJ Groove August 16, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Sher - isn't now an establishment of retailers with commercial space? Are you suggesting that if the current Mall is demolished and another one is built (with green space and whatsnot), the demographics will suddenly shift and the Mall will prosper as a result?
Sher Katz August 16, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I'm unsure if retail for the sake of retail will work in this economy. Though a space with a draw for a reason other than buying "stuff" would be more appealing, at least in my eyes. I clearly stated my suggestion would not likely return the owners' investments, so no I'm not suggesting my ideas be put into action. But what I did suggest is that the developers need to put thought, energy, research, and hardwork into figuring out what would prosper there. I personally have no need for a mall and can't remember the last time I set foot in a traditional one.
DJ Groove August 16, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I think if there was a viable, worthy solution to revive the Mall, it would've been offered already. But since there isn't, the Mall sits as-is and shall continue to do so.
KW August 16, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Demographics shift, DJ Groove? Certainly, the demographics of the area will not change because of a new mall. However, they don't need to change. The fact that Aegmans wants to come to this area shows that the area has good demographics. I don't know why OM mall failed, but I think there were a combination of factors. The location is not great. At the time it was built, there were a great deal less people in the area. I think the Metro encouraged too many people who were up to no good to visit, and the residents/genuine shoppers didn't sufficiently outnumber those people. The mall management was also not as vigilant as they needed to be. There are probably many other factors.
KW August 16, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I guess I'm in the minority that wants to see the mall reimagined. I do a good deal of shopping, and it is ridiculous that other residents and I must drive 20 min or more to Towson or Columbia to shop. While I would love to see a mall with high end stores, I'm not sure we can really support one with high end malls Towson and Columbia in the vicinity. A commercial area with some indoor space sounds good to me - it is nice to be able to have some place to walk/visit to shop when it rains. I like the idea of an outdoor gathering space, but am a bit leery as it could turn dangerous if the management is not on top of security. Someone previously suggested an outlet mall. I think that may be the best mall concept I've heard. People are used to driving a little to get to outlet malls (the area seems out-of-the-way). Also, our residents seem to have disposable income, but be budget-conscious. An outlet wouldn't need to compete with Columbia or Towson. I think we'd need a Last Call (Neiman Marcus) or outlets for other well-regarded/designer retailers to raise the mall's perception. Whatever it is, the mall needs to be reimagined, not just redeveloped. It has to appear completely new and different to break the negative associations it has attracted. The plans I've read sound like the same old mall: Penney's and Macy's as anchors plus retail, but now outdoors. This sounds like the same mall that failed before (worse, actually). Why can't the developers see that?
Chuck Burton August 16, 2012 at 04:12 PM
If the Mall owners are so confident about the plans they announced quite some while back, why haven't they done something about them? If they think Foundry Row would cancel out the Mall, even though it's grocery based, they must not be very sure the Mall is even viable at all. With the new Liberty Rd Walmart superstore, even other big box stores might hesitate before going in there.
Sher Katz August 16, 2012 at 04:19 PM
KW suggested outlets. I've seen that work in other communities and while I don't go out of my way to frequent them, when I lived in an area that had one, I would shop there if I needed something. That would also bring in people from other areas as well. Good idea. I wouldn't mind a Whole Foods or MOM's Organic either. While it would still pull in some Wegman's Trader Joe's shoppers its a different experience.
Chuck Burton August 16, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Whole Foods or Moms would certainly be very nice, but they likely would avoid the Mall for the same reasons Wegmans has. Maybe in Reisterstown or Eldersburg.
Michelle A. Corbett August 17, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I honestly have been talking to anyone that would listen! Why can't Wegman's build at the mall?? Why can't we get OM mall to follow the same tried and true Hunt Valley platform? As stated earlier- the infrastructure is there for space, parking and good access in and out. It needs the lift and Wegman's could be one of the anchors that make it work! Yes- Solo is an eyesore right now- but will a bunch I'd brick and concrete and congestion help that??? I soooo want to bring back the OM mall to what it once was- for me it was a place that I was proud to work long ago to put myself through college! Other people need to have the same chance and an updated area would create that!!!
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Michelle...I agree with you. The OM Mall is long overdue for revitalization. It's not 'dead' to me... It just needs to be made a priority and given its due...The Master Plan should be fulfilled or it's not worth the paper it is written on. .
ReisterstownMAN August 17, 2012 at 10:24 AM
You are forgetting that the mall property owners have had over 10 years to try and improve this mall. They had their chance. WEGMANS is not a place for the mall. The mall is dead in everyones eyes. Last year the properties owners went out and described they will start working on the mall ASAP...Have you seen anything going on at the mall that would show they are working on anything there? Yet, they are worried about what is going on at the SOLO location. They should worry about their own damn projects that they years to revive and still cannot. That mall is dead, look at the parking lots....look inside when it rains....have you seen the buckets in the mall every 5 or so feet collecting water from the roof.....have you looked at it? They have done nothing to fix it up... There used to be security gaurd there....now they have 1 car driving around and 1 gaurd inside walking the mall that has 5 stores.. I mean do you not see that nothing will happen there...
Maryland August 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM
You can't force Wegmans to go somewhere they don't want to go just because the Kimcoalition wants their vacant building developed over another. Should the council ignore page 66 of the master plan, which specifically recommends rezoning Solo, in favor of the generalities of the rest of the document?
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Page 66 says the County should work with property owners to EVALUATE rezoning and redev opportunities to accommodate a MIX of uses on the site AND IN THE AREA to help REVITALIZE THE SURROUNDING BUSINESS. I interpret that to mean the fact that Metro Centre and the OM Mall, less than a mile away, and already properly zoned, should be a factor in this rezoning decision. I also read that to say that any new development should not have the potential to run the other businesses straight out of business and create more pockets of vacant buildings. I am greatly concerned about the smaller businesses in that immediate area... the coffeee shops, the pizzerias, etc. The evaluation process is supposed to include input from all stakeholders, and no decisions should be made outside of the public process, i.e. private meetings with developers and trips to Annapolis and what-not. Let's be honest here, Vicki Almond had her mind made up a long time ago, well before this debate really hit the public airwaves.
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 02:13 PM
I disagree with you ReisterstownMan. I believe the mall can be revitalized and thrive again. We can agree to disagree. :-))
KW August 17, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Michelle, Yes, actually, a bunch of brick and concrete and a top retailer in the country will help with the Solo Cup eyesore. But, I see that doesn't matter much to you. Because you care about the mall, that should be the top priority and everything else should wait!?! I live right off Reisterstown Rd and I care about this area, too. You say I should forget the great opportunities possible for my area because you want the mall to be first. Because the developer of your precious mall let it decline for a decade and now says he might (might) start developing it, everything else should wait. I see, now, you are willing to possibly deny other OM residents a Wegmans and a chance for growth because you want the mall first at all costs. Ok, well I'm not going to let you play with my dolly anymore.
Chuck Burton August 17, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Didn't the Master Plan call for the rezoning of the SOLO property, BrownGirl?
KW August 17, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Umm - last I looked stakeholders have had opportunities for input. The project was announced 9 months ago - there have been months of opportunity. Many businesses have supported the project by way of their area chambers of commerce announcing support. Why would the chambers of commerce support the development if their business members believe it will put them out of business? Your groups' position is at odds with those businesses. And anyway, this is America - capitalist America. Since when do we allow a bit of competition to stop growth? There aren't anti-trust issues at stake here. No monopolies by Greenberg-Gibbons forcing everyone else out of the area. If anyone is monopolizing the area, it's David S. Brown.
Chuck Burton August 17, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Opening a new supermarket isn't going to hurt the local coffee shops and pizzarias - it might affect the existing supermarkets. And as for the "public process", the decision will, of course, be made in a public meeting, but each member of the Council will make her or his decision in private - in her or his own mind, influenced by everything learned about the matter.
KW August 17, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I keep hearing this argument that Ms. Almond made up her mind long ago. I think it's reasonable for her to have an opinion or gut feeling about an issue before the vote. You don't know whether her mind is or was "made up." Just because she hasn't done what your group wants doesn't mean she hasn't considered your points. As long as she thoughtfully considers all information presented to her up until the time of the vote, she is doing her duty. And, Ken Oliver and the Vote No group obviously made up their minds long ago, even before any traffic studies were released. I guess it's supposed to be OK to have an opinion beforehand, if it is against the project and in support of your Vote No group.
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Stakeholders are making their opinions known, and have been for months... It's part of the process. I don't really care what Vicki thinks, but, as Council President, I think she should be mindful of appearances that she is siding with the developer before all aspects of the issue have been fully vetted. That's all.
BrownGirl71 August 17, 2012 at 02:57 PM
@ Chuck - Please see my post below about my interpretation of page 66.
Chuck Burton August 17, 2012 at 03:33 PM
BrownGirl, Shirley Supik and others opposing Foundry Row: I support the development, chiefly because I want to see Owings Mills improve and become a better place to live. I see Greenberg Gibbons trying to make a big contribution to that goal. I also support Metro Centre and wish it success, even thoiugh I am no big fan of David Brown, and question that the Centre's main access is via a road that is subject to flooding in major storms. I believe the OM Mall has failed, chiefly because of a poor location and lack of commitment by its owners. I no longer patronize or support it.
Sher Katz August 17, 2012 at 04:06 PM
https://www.facebook.com/#!/TowsonTownCenter Would love if General Growth put in this much effort to the Owings Mills Mall.
Maryland August 18, 2012 at 09:17 AM
Vicki isn't siding with "the" developer, she just isn't siding with "your" developer. Do you honestly think Kimco's attorneys and Howard's attorneys haven't been in the council's ear "in private meetings" since this whole thing started? If there was one unscrupulous councilor person, it's Ken Oliver, who does whatever Howard wants him to do and has been quoted as such. Kimco is just lucky that Howard considers them the enemy of his enemy in his case.
Catherine Ridgely August 18, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I would like to know how many people who signed this petition are even from this area. I agree the petitions should be destroyed. If Wegmans doesn't go in where Solo Cup is what will happen to this property, become an eye sore to our community like the property where Franks was? All projects will help with a up to date renovation that our area needs, plus jobs.
Michelle A. Corbett August 18, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Thanks BrownGirl71! I find it hard that KW and RiesterstownMan both want to state that the mall is 'dead' and therefore ceases to need or warrant any improvement. Doesn't anyone remember Hunt Valley being 'dead'?? It was horrendous also. A black hole really. And OM Mall isn't out of the way and has direct access from businesses and home build right there. 795 dumps right into the parking lot!! So yes, the developers are and have slacked - doesn't mean that putting Weigman's there or or any other great staple store can't bring it back. As I stated before - Hunt Valley has shown it can be done. And by the way - I do live and work and shop in the area - can each of you say all of that?? I also have a friend with a business in the mall - so I see what needing to support local business means. If folks would stop fighting the thought and telling anyone that will listen that the mall is a lost cause and that they don't even try to patronize it anymore - then the down hill spiral is partly on their shoulders. I don't like to go there, it doesn't feel good these days, but I still try to show that something should be done. That's part of the problem these days, everyone wants something brand new instead of trying to build up what needs help.
Chuck Burton August 18, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Michelle Corbett, I'm sorry for your friend in the mall - she or he deserves better. Not many people want to go there anymore. Yes, 795 dumps right into the parking lot, but only if traffic follows a few signs - otherwise the Mall is invisible - out of sight, out of mind. And even the owners say they want to tear down all but the two department stores and build everything else anew - but they haven't shown anything but talk about really doing so. That is why I think it would be better to redevelop it as a kind of extension of Mr. Brown's Metro Centre (and I'm not really his fan). There is already the Carefirst office complex and the restaurants and movieplex, and a modest apartment group - it could all be added to. Then there would be even more need for the things that Foundry Row would offer, not all that far away. Tied together with a gradual redevelopment of the S. Dolfield business park, we might have the beginning of a real community like Towson or White Marsh.
kim August 19, 2012 at 09:22 PM
The question I have is why doesn't Wegmans not want to come to the mall? Especially it was reported there were plans to redevelop an open air mall there? I believe it has more to do with the subway than anything else. I am for a Wegmans in this community as the next person. I don't really understand. Owings Mills is Owings Mills. We are only talking about a few miles.
Chuck Burton August 20, 2012 at 01:21 AM
The Metro (subway) is only a bit farther from Foundry Row than it is from the Mall, and would actually be a way for some workers and shoppers to get to Wegmans; so I doubt that has anything to do with their rejection of the Mall.
ReisterstownMAN August 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Why would WEGMANS want to go to a mall that has shown no revitalization in the past 20 or so years... The mall property owners stated months ago they are starting work and ground breaking ASAP. Have you seen anything take place accept more stores closing? Why would a WEGMANS want to go to a mall that takes nothing into consideration and want to control others from building in different areas around the county. The mall is dead and there is no bringing it back. There are no plans for anything to happen there and it wont for many more years.

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