The following is an op-ed by Peta N. Richkus regarding the proposed Royal Farms gas station at York Road and Bosley Avenue. Councilman David Marks has introduced legislation to kill the project, and the council will review the issue at its 2 PM work session on Aug. 1. They will then vote on Aug. 7.
Councilwoman Vicki Almond was certainly correct when she said that being asked to vote against a project that is already in motion is “difficult.”
Nonetheless, I urge her and the rest of the County Council to stand with Councilman David Marks and the overwhelming number of district residents who — like me — are vehemently opposed to the Royal Farms project.
Unfortunately, the County’s handling of the Caves Valley Partners project proposed for the Bosley Avenue-York Road property violated the trust and the will of area residents at every turn. It will not “achieve ‘substantially, higher-quality development than a conventional development’ or provide a public benefit” and does not deserve to move forward. There are many reasons the proposed Royal Farms project is objectionable. Here are just a few:
– The financial and other assessments do not justify this project’s exemption from the new County Zoning Plan.
– Tree removal by the County without the appropriate notifications, permits, and replacement plan (per the Maryland Forest Conservation Act) before the sale of the property was complete, was done at taxpayers’ expense. Numerous specimen trees of 30″ or more in diameter were destroyed, in violation of the approved Resolution. Plans were laid to have more trees removed, having co-opted the Archdiocese, all without appropriate community or Council notification.
– There are already six gas stations within a mile of each other nearby.
– The Bosley/York intersection is already a failed intersection, woefully under-designed for the burden of traffic it currently experiences. The Caves Valley proposal adds 12 gas pumps without regard to the resulting increase in traffic and the associated, additional costs to the County.
– The $50,000 pittance offered by Caves Valley as mitigation (“community benefits”) for the project’s numerous negative impacts is wholly inadequate. $50,000 is barely 0.6% of the council-approved sale of the 5.8-acre site to Caves Valley Partners for $8.3 million and ignores the true value of this gateway parcel to the County.
The PUD process is exactly that, a process. Let the upcoming Council vote be the end of it.
I applaud Councilman Marks for listening to his constituents, rethinking his position, and withdrawing his support of this ill-conceived project; some of his Councilmates have already said they will do so, but I urge the rest of the Council to continue their tradition of deferring to the local member on issues that affect his or her district.
The Council should vote to end further review of this controversial project. It detracts rather than adds to the Towson Gateway area and it is totally opposed by District 5 voters.
Or, let Caves Valley Partners be persuaded to withdraw the project from further consideration as other, better options are pursued.
Peta N. Richkus, retired, has lived in the 5th District for the past decade