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Towson green space preserved, downtown area still poised for development

David Marks

David Marks

A host of parks and other green space in Towson were re-zoned Tuesday evening in order to deter future development on the land when the Baltimore County Council unanimously approved all of Councilman David Masks’ zoning requests. The downtown area is still set to allow taller and denser development.

Areas that were downzoned include the Rodgers Forge Tot Lot, the land around Dumbarton Middle School, parks in West Towson and Towson Manor Village, and the huge swath of land in front of Baltimore County Public Schools’ headquarters on Charles Street, which is a popular sledding hill.

Much of the land within the Towson Triangle, bordered by Towsontown Boulevard, Bosley Avenue and York Road, was also either downzoned or kept at current levels. The American Legion had sought a zoning change to allow major development in the area, but Marks denied that request.

Towson Triangle

Towson Triangle

Marks also said he will not include the Triangle in the new Towson overlay district, which means it will not automatically be subject to higher-density development.

“The [Green Towson Alliance] agrees with this move wholeheartedly as inclusion in the overlay would allow unlimited heights, no setbacks and a much lower amount of open space than we are advocating,” said Beth Miller of the GTA.

101 York Road rendering

101 York Road rendering

Still up in the air is the project known as 101 York. The development was originally proposed at 6 stories, then it was changed to 13 stories and eventually to 20. The developer, DMS Development, applied for a planned unit development, or PUD, which would have allowed it to bypass the property’s current zoning for much shorter buildings.

Marks said he is in favor of the PUD for a 13-story building getting a review from the county, but neighborhood groups who say the project is too large have blocked the review. They and DMS are slated to go to the Court of Special Appeals over the matter.

While the PUD’s future is unclear, DMS also asked Marks to rezone the property to accommodate its taller structure. Marks denied that zoning request and said 101 York should be addressed through the PUD.

Some of the other changes approved Tuesday evening include:

  • About two acres of publicly owned property east of the Wiltondale community was designated as Neighborhood Commons, or open space zoning.  The land is between Hastings Road and Fairway Drive and was zoned DR 5.5. The “Neighborhood Commons” designation is, according to county code, meant to “promote more livable communities through the preservation of land for the purpose of community parks, gardens and natural areas.”
  • About three acres of privately owned property south of the future Radebaugh Park was downzoned to DR 1, or one house per acre.   The land was zoned DR 5.5.
  • In the Yorkleigh area, an acre of county-owned property at Stevenson Road and Osler Drive was designated as Neighborhood Commons.
  • Along the Charles Street corridor, about two acres of county-owned property near the Charlesbrooke community was downzoned to Neighborhood Commons.
  • Marks also recommended keeping most of the current DR 3.5 zoning at The Villa operated by the Sisters of Mercy (6806 Bellona Avenue), but he supported the creation of a 35-foot wide buffer of DR 1 zoning along the southern and western border to protect neighbors in the event the property is ever sold for development.
  • An 8-acre wooded area north of the Towson Y was downzoned to DR 1, the lowest zoning allowed for land in the urbanized part of the county.  Marks also downzoned the Mount Moriah Masonic Lodge on Chesapeake Avenue from DR 5.5 to DR 2, or two houses per acre.

“We have a lot of dense zoning on institutions that people may think will always be in existence, and we have dense zoning on undeveloped properties,” Councilman Marks commented.  “These decisions will help protect communities from infill development if there are changes in the future.”

-Kristine Henry

Towson Flyer
Towson Flyer
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