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Reverend says Royal Farms would be yet another blow to his church

Mt. Olive Baptist Church, viewed from the proposed site of a Royal Farms gas station

Rev. Avery Penn, who heads the Mount Olive Baptist Church at Bosley Avenue and York Road, said at a recent Baltimore County Council work session that he is tired of the county doing things that negatively affect his congregation.

“In 1985 the county told us that we needed to move the church, move the church that had been there since 1888 … To comply with the county, we tore it down, turned it around and moved back in,” he said at a session about the Royal Farms on Tuesday. “Guess what they told us. That is was going to be a gateway and it had to be something that would be pretty.”

The proposed gas station, which would be across the street from the church, has brought strong resistance from Towson residents who say a huge, 24-hour Royal Farms would bring added traffic and crime, and is the wrong kind of project for what is supposed to be the northern gateway to Towson.

Kenilworth Drive and a jail now separate Mount Olive from its cemetary

At the meeting, Rev. Penn said the African-American church has already had its property divided up and seen its surroundings change drastically. (You can read an account of the “new” church in this 1990 Baltimore Sun article.)

“We would walk out of the church, carry the body up to the cemetery on green ground,” he said at the meeting. “Baltimore County came along and decided that they would cut off the cemetery. They brought Bosley Avenue down across there, cut off what was Kenilworth and cut us off from the cemetery. They took the house — the church’s parsonage — you know where it was? It was right where Bosley Avenue is, right beside the church. The put it on telephone poles and they rolled it around behind the church, and that’s where it is today, that duplex house. Baltimore County did that.

“They built a fire house over there. They went where we walked up to the cemetery and they built a police station. And they told me I had to tear down the church and build something nice and I did it.

“Twenty six years later Baltimore County wants to take all my effort with the pretty church and come to the other side of the road and put a gas station.”

You can here his full comments here:

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2 Comments on "Reverend says Royal Farms would be yet another blow to his church"

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Another case of environmental racism – like the BGE electrical substation in the heart of East Towson many years ago.


This is so moving. A county government trail of broken promises, bullying and worse. And now the county and two Baltimore area companies–Royal Farms and Caves Valley Partners–don’t even care that a gas station will be within 1,000 feet of school fields where young children run up and down playing soccer (a violation of EPA guidelines due to toxicity and air pollution). Don’t. Even. Care. The adjoining traffic-snarled intersection and proposed wall would dwarf its neighbor, this lovely church. The character and scale of this project makes zero sense, and the surrounding community does not want it. Listen to your constituents and future clients. Those pushing for this mess of a project regardless of the continued outcry should all be ashamed.