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Opponents of Royal Farms tell county council “we are not going to give up”

Councilman David Marks introduced legislation tonight to stop the review process of a proposed Royal Farms in Towson, and a large crowd was on hand to cheer his efforts.

The bill to effectively kill the proposed 24-hour gas station at the corner of York Road and Bosley Avenue was not discussed by council members at the meeting, but many from the audience spoke out against the project.

Sen. Jim Brochin urged the council to respect “councilmanic courtesy” and defer to Marks’ wish to stop the project.

A gas station is not allowed by the area’s zoning, so developer Caves Valley Partners applied for a PUD (planned unit development) to avoid having to comply with the zoning. Despite strong opposition for adjacent neighborhoods, Marks approved moving the PUD forward.

The site, formerly home to a fire station, also had interest from Harris Teeter and Whole Foods, though neither of those projects made it through the initial stages. Opponents of the Royal Farms note that it flies in the face of downtown Towson’s goal of becoming more pedestrian friendly and of utilizing stricter architectural standards.

Mark Lee, a West Towson resident, said he and other opponents of the project are prepared to fight until the project is dead.

Under the “councilmanic courtesy” that Brochin mentioned, council members generally defer to the wishes of the councilperson who represents the area in which a PUD is being considered. But in this case, that is not guaranteed.

Councilwoman Vicki Almond, who represents the western portion of Towson, said in a statement to the Flyer that “Based on how many times Councilman Marks has changed his mind on this project, I am waiting until August to see what the Council will actually be voting on.”

Marks countered at the time that “For the record, my mind changed once it became apparent that the PUD process was tainted and unable to produce a collaboratively designed project,” Marks said. “I stood by Councilwoman Almond when there was immense pressure to override her zoning on Foundry Row. I respect Councilwoman Almond and know she will do the right thing.”

Towson resident Amy Rehkemper attended the meeting — and provided many of the signs displayed by audience members — and said afterward that if any council members vote against Marks’ wishes — and in favor of the Royal Farms — it will be “hugely telling of where their priorities lie.”

“From every angle you look at this it’s wrong,” she said. “It’s appalling to me that it’s gone this far.”

Marks said after Monday’s meeting that the PUD process was designed to get community input and that he has heard loudly and clearly that the community does not want the project.

The bill will be discussed at a work session at 2 PM on Aug. 1, and then there will be a vote on Aug. 7.

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8 Comments on "Opponents of Royal Farms tell county council “we are not going to give up”"

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Carla jason

I object to any project that kills more trees. Why not turn it into a small wooded area or park instead?

Towson resident

What now? Yes, the property is an eyesore currently and the intersection busy, but that doesn’t mean we go down another ill-planned development path. There are reasons 1) this property in NOT zoned for a gas station, 2) that the county has a Forestry Law to preserve specimen trees, and 3) that the county council passed a resolution to protect numerous trees at this site during redevelopment—a resolution violated by the county itself. What are the legal ramifications for a violation of such resolutions, policies, guidelines, or law?

Bad government does not make this a good project. It is not even compliant with the PUD process at this point on numerous fronts, including environmental, traffic, disdain for cummunity concerns, and gas station proximity to a school–also in violation of recent EPA guidelines.

I welcome development there. Retail. Restaurants. A courtyard feature like the one Towson Row is proposing. A Towson Master Plan was created for a reason too. A project here should benefit the community, not make things worse.

Sam C

After this deal is killed, and the abandoned property is left to further deteriorate, will the angry mob turn its pitchforks to all other business they don’t like?

The jail, gas station, tow yard, and auto lots surrounding the proposed development can’t possibly fit in their utopian vision of Towson where all those needed services are located in someone else’s backyard.

How many of the protestors own two or more SUVs? How many keep their homes cooled below the needed levels all summer? How many choose to walk for errands located less than a mile away?

The gas station is a reflection of your demand, not something forced on you.

towson817

Sam C are you familiar with the site? Are you aware that Mt. Olive Baptist Church is across the street, as well as the church’s cemetery? What about Immaculate Conception Church and school, that are adjacent to the property? The gas station is not a reflection of our demand. The property developer, Caves Valley, wanted this gas station. They support Kamenetz, and that is where this all started.

Pat France

Thank you David Marks for your hard work in stopping the Royal Farms gas stations at Bosley Ave in Towson. We certainly don’t need more gas stations, especially at that intersection!
Pat France

Sam C

He created this mess. He wouldn’t be working to stop it if he never started it.

Weak leadership, to put it lightly. A better leader would have addressed this years ago and pushed for a better plan. Now we’re left with a gas station and mixed use retail or a decade of blight and abandonment. When is the next election??

I’ll choose business over blight. I don’t want my taxes to increase or crime to flourish in neglected space

Julie Shambergere

The property has been left an eyesore for a VERY long time. It needed to be addressed long before this. NO matter what is going to be there,
Make sure it is maintained. I think ignoring the property was irresponsible and made the area look extremely neglected. Where was all the attention then?

Sam C

Yes, yes, and yes!

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