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Baltimore County Council to take action on overdue master plan
Posted on Jan 8th, 2024 Comments (0)
The Baltimore County Council is set to begin debating the county’s master plan. It’s supposed to be a 10 year road map on how the county will develop.
 
But it’s already several years overdue and there are those who say the system used to plan Baltimore County’s future is broken.
To use a football analogy, what if the Ravens went into their upcoming game with the Steelers with no game plan. Or better yet, Coach John Harbaugh decided to use a plan from, say, 10 years ago?
 
That’s sort of what’s happening in Baltimore County as its leaders plan future development. They have an out of date master plan. And right now they are in the big game.
 
It’s called the CZMP, which stands for the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process.
 
It comes once every four years, when every piece of property in the county can be rezoned.
 
“There’ll be probably several hundred zoning issues that have been filed,” said Councilman Izzy Patoka. “And a zoning issue is a request to change the classification of land from one zone to another.”
 
But those issues were filed under the old 2020 master plan. They had to be filed by November 30.
 
“There is no master plan in effect,” said Nick Stewart, a co-founder of We The People-Baltimore County, a non-profit that wants predictable, transparent development in Baltimore County. “We are putting the cart before the horse by just going headlong into the CZMP without really addressing our master plan needs first.”
 
And that matters, according to Stewart, because all that proposed rezoning currently is not tied to a big picture plan. So development projects run the risk of being considered one by one, rather than how they fit into the overall growth in the county.
Stewart said, “We just basically missed the entire opportunity to direct this decade of growth unless we can do something about it.”
 
Stewart said there’s a bigger, systemic problem. Since the master plan comes up every 10 years and the CZMP every four, they rarely dovetail. Ideally, they would be connected. First pass the master plan then the CZMP quickly follows to tie all of that rezoning to the county’s big picture.
 
Instead, Stewart said the CZMP is politicized because it begins the year after the County Council is elected.
 
“That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because there’s nothing really tied to the election cycle except for influence and politics and money that warrant us doing it this way,” Stewart said.
 
Council members are not allowed to take campaign donations during the CZMP.
 
Baltimore County Planning Director Steve Lafferty would like the CZMP to happen every 10 years, just like the master plan. He said it isn’t happening because the County Council doesn’t want it.
 
“The County Council would have to change the current code to allow it to happen on a different cycle and almost to the person they’ve indicated they don’t have any desire to change it,” Lafferty said.
 
County Council Chairman Julian Jones said the quadrennial rezoning cycle works because the council needs to deal more quickly with changes, citing the effects of the COVID pandemic as an example.
 
“Four years is a good time and it allows the county to be nimble and adjust to the changing circumstance quicker than someone with a longer, longer cycle,” Jones said.
 
Councilman David Marks, who represents the fast growing fifth district, which includes White Marsh and Perry Hall, said the CZMP is where he can make his biggest impact.
 
“I represent an area that’s very environmentally sensitive with a lot of growth and there’s pushback from neighborhoods about where that growth is occurring,” Marks said.
 
Dealing with growth in Baltimore County is especially challenging because of the URDL, the Urban-Rural Demarcation Line. It divides the county into rural and urban areas. It’s why once you get north of Cockeysville on I-83 you mostly see woods and farmland.
 
The urban part, basically the area around the city, gets water and sewer services and is where 90% of county residents live. It’s also expected to run out of developable land within 20 years.
 
“We just don’t have that much open land anymore,” Lafferty said. “That requires a different analysis of where redevelopment and other development should take place.”
 
That brings us back to the draft 2030 master plan.
 
It includes some ideas on how to grapple with the shortage of urban land, like reimagining old buildings in some communities so that they work in today’s world.
 
Councilman Patoka said they need the master plan in place.
 
“So that as we council members make good land use decisions, we’re following the master plan, there’s some basis for our land use decisions and we implement those through the CZMP,” Patoka said.
 
The Council has had the proposed master plan for several months without taking action, which miffed County Executive Johnny Olszewski.
 
“I’m deeply concerned and disappointed that this has not been taken up by the Council,” Olszewski said.
Council Chairman Jones noted that the master plan was late getting to the council from the Olszewski administration and that it will be approved before final decisions are made during the CZMP.
 
“We want to do due diligence,” Jones said. ‘When it comes to the master plan, I think that’s something we need to really be solely focused on and give it the time and attention that it deserves.”
 
The Council plans to hold hearings on the master plan this month and pass it in February. The year-long CZMP rezoning process continues through September.
 
So sticking with that football analogy, the county’s game plan will be in place by halftime.
 
John Lee/WYPR
Baltimore County to "conduct road safety audits for 17 corridors throughout the county'
Posted on Jan 8th, 2024 Comments (0)
The Baltimore County Department of Public Works today announced that Baltimore County has been awarded over $3.5 million in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) program to enhance road safety and infrastructure and support Baltimore County’s ongoing efforts to reduce traffic-related fatalities.
 
"Investing in our roadways is not just about improving infrastructure, but prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our residents and communities," said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. "We are grateful to our federal and state partners for supporting these critical planning projects and helping to ensure Baltimore County’s roads are safe for years to come."
The County will use these newly announced grant funds to conduct road safety audits for 17 corridors throughout the county. These initiatives will play a crucial role in identifying and mitigating potential road safety hazards.
 
"This grant is a vital resource for Baltimore County, specifically geared towards advancing our road safety initiatives through detailed audits and evaluations,” said D’Andrea Walker, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Public Works and Transportation. “It enables us to undertake in-depth studies, assessing the current state of our roads and identifying key areas for future improvements. Our goal is to lay a solid foundation for safer travel in the county through meticulous planning and analysis."
 
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s SS4A program supports communities across the country by helping combat the preventable crisis of road fatalities through safer roads, vehicles, and speed management. Maryland's Vision Zero initiative aligns with this effort, aiming to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.
 
Baltimore County's receipt of the grant is a testament to the collaborative effort between local and state agencies, including the Maryland Department of Transportation , in advocating for these critical funds.
 
For more information about the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program, please visit transportation.gov/grants/SS4A .
Izzy Patoka - Pikesville's County Councilman becomes chair of the Baltimore County Council
Posted on Jan 7th, 2024 Comments (0)
Israel “Izzy” Patoka will serve as chair of the Baltimore County Council for the 2024 calendar year, after six members voted unanimously for the Pikesville Democrat to succeed the outgoing chair, Julian Jones.
 
Republican Todd Crandell of Dundalk was not present and did not vote.
 
It is Patoka’s first time serving as chair, which lasts for one year, and is typically rotated among members of the majority party. He has served since 2018 as the representative of the 2nd District, which borders northwest Baltimore City and includes the communities of Pikesville, Owings Mills and Reisterstown.
 
A former community planner, Patoka said his priorities for the new year were the 2030 Master Plan, the 2024 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, addressing legislation to improve public facilities capacity, revisiting impact fees legislation and the fiscal year 2025 budget.
Meadow Creek Park on Church Lane/Pikesville - Groundbreaking Ceremony Held
Posted on Oct 20th, 2023 Comments (0)
MEADOW CREEK PARK GROUNDBREAKING
The Department of Recreation and Parks hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, October 18.
 
Water Main Projects along Reisterstown Road - North and South of the Beltway
Posted on Oct 20th, 2023 Comments (0)
PIKESVILLE PUMPING STATION NUMBER 2, 42-INCH DISCHARGE WATER MAIN (North)

Baltimore County will begin work on a major water main project starting at the Pikesville Pumping Station located south of Interstate 695 (I-695) and east of Reisterstown Road. The new water main travels north going under I-695 to the Reservoir Circle Office Complex, then travels west along Hooks Lane and finally north along Greene Tree Road. The discharge water main is approximately 9,500 feet in length. Work includes, but is not limited to, construction of the new 42-inch and 30-inch water main, and construction of a 72-inch tunnel across I-695. The project will begin this fall and is expected to take two years to complete at a cost of $20.2 million dollars.
 
 
REISTERSTOWN ROAD WATER MAIN PROJECT (DESIGNATED PHASE IV) (South)

Baltimore County is scheduled to begin work on a major water main project, replacing 8,600 linear feet of four-to-24-inch ductile-iron water main in Reisterstown Road from Interstate 695 heading south to Irving Place. The project cost is $11,920,728. The working hours will be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday. Expect single-lane closures with various traffic patterns throughout the duration of the project. The work is scheduled to begin this year (work started in September 2023)
 
Information: Questions should be directed to the Division of Construction Contracts at 410-887-3531.
Public Safety Town Hall focuses on changes to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act
Posted on Sep 21st, 2023 Comments (0)
 
As Maryland lawmakers hash out whether to again change child conviction laws, the Baltimore area's top prosecutors (Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates) want constituents to tell their State House reps to discuss possible changes in juvenile crime laws.
 
Read the article by Baltimore Banner's Taylor Deville here.
Retail News
Posted on Sep 5th, 2023 Comments (0)
Mr. Chan's, a long time fixture in downtown Pikesville, closed at the end of 2023.
 
Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG) is NOW OPEN 24/7 in Woodholme Square (at the corner of Mt Wilson Lane and Reisterstown Road, across from Sol Levinson). The pet care organization focuses on emergency veterinary medicine only and acts as partner and extension of a primary veterinarian for after-hours emergency care. Patients see a doctor right away and can stay with their pet through every step of the process.
 
Radcliffe Jewelers is performing extensive renovations to the former Bibelot/Barnes and Noble space at Festival at Woodholme in preparation for their move across Reisterstown Road.
 
Greenbaum Enterprises is "now leasing" Woodholme II, advertised as a Class A, 3-Story, 56,000 SF Office Building (443 451-2600).
 
Chase Bank has opened at Hooks Lane and Reisterstown Road.
 
Pikesville Extra Space Storage, located at 1315 Greenwood Road and Old Court Road, is expanding their self storage operation to include the entire former Port City Press building. The business features a drive through climate controlled building with multi floor storage units, as well as drive up outdoor units.
Citizens Against Speeding website is now live!
Posted on Sep 4th, 2023 Comments (0)
 
A GROWING PROBLEM IN BALTIMORE COUNTY

In recent years, Baltimore County communities have been inundated by growing levels of dangerous speeding in residential areas. County law enforcement must prioritize 911 calls and investigative work over speeding enforcement. As a result, the available County staff and tools remaining for speed enforcement are drastically insufficient and have failed to prevent harm and negative impacts to our communities, not just to our public safety but our quality of life and to our property values.  
Speed Safety Cameras
Surprisingly, Baltimore County lacks approval for basic residential automated speed enforcement which is a simple and effective tool to catch speeders. Speed Safety Cameras are being used successfully throughout Maryland's largest counties and been shown to be highly effective at reducing speeding.  Cameras eliminate the “Gotcha” scenario since fines are only issued when vehicle speeds exceed 12 m.p.h. over posted limits.  Lastly, they are promoted as an invaluable enforcement tool by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation Safe Systems program, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and other leading organizations.
Authorization for Speed Safety Cameras in Baltimore County comes from the STATE
By law, no community in Baltimore County can consider having Speed Safety Cameras until our State Delegates and Senators pass a Bill to Authorize the county to use them. 
Baltimore County 2024 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) Begins September 1, 2023
Posted on Sep 3rd, 2023 Comments (0)
Baltimore County 2024 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) will begin September 1, 2023 and will conclude in September 2024. During the CZMP, which takes place every four years, any citizen may request a zoning change on any property in the County. The CZMP covers a period of approximately 12 months and results in zoning decisions that are reflect in a final Log of Issues, with the County Council enacting legislation for each issue whether to retain the existing zoning or to enact a different zone(s) or district(s). Visit the 2024 CZMP Hub here.
Pikesville Armory Redevelopment
Posted on Aug 6th, 2023 Comments (0)
$100 million Pikesville Armory redevelopment can move forward with land transfer approved
by Ed Gunts/Baltimore Banner
August 3, 2023
 
A rendering of the $100 million redevelopment plan for the Pikesville Armory Credit: Pikesville Armory Foundation
Plans for redevelopment of the 14-acre Pikesville Armory campus are moving ahead with the announcement of a team to lead the effort and state approval of a change in ownership of the land. 
 
Maryland’s Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved a request to transfer ownership of the Armory property at 610 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville to Baltimore County for $1. 
 
The county intends to transfer the property to the Pikesville Armory Foundation, a non-profit that has been formed to redevelop it in phases, in partnership with Baltimore County and the state of Maryland. The total cost of the redevelopment is estimated to be $100 million.
 
The foundation announced that it will be redeveloping the property in partnership with two Baltimore organizations, Seawall and Onyx Development. Ziger/Snead Architects is the lead architect and Unknown Studio is the landscape architect. Seawall is the firm behind the construction of the new Lexington Market, as well as the R House food hall.
The land transfer approved on Wednesday includes buildings that were operated by the Maryland Military Department but have been declared surplus by the state of Maryland. They are: the Armory Building, also known as the Cooper Armory; the Merson Building, the Admin/Edwards Building; the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officers) Club and the Blacksmith Shop, as well as some of the garages on the site.  The buildings contain about 225,000 square feet of space.  
 
The result was a report that recommended the site be redeveloped as a “a multi-use venue for recreation, arts and other community programming” and led to the formation of the Pikesville Armory Foundation to serve as stewards for the property and oversee its transformation.  
 
The Pikesville Armory Foundation includes representatives from the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council; the Greater Baltimore Chamber of Commerce; the Veterans of the Pikesville Military Reservation; the 1000 Friends of Pikesville, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Baltimore. Board members have expertise in the arts, parks and recreation, education, military affairs and history, architecture and development. David Ginsburg is the foundation’s executive director.
Earlier this year, the foundation held a series of community meetings and began working with Seawall and Onyx Development. This week’s announcement was the first time their selection was made public.
 
“In selecting Seawall and Onyx as our development partners, we are confident that we are creating a community-centered project that will be transformative for the region,” foundation president Shelley Morhaim said in a statement. 
According to foundation vice president Barry Williams, “the first step will be the renovation of the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) Club Building, which is currently used by over 500 veterans. When complete, it will serve not only the veterans’ groups, but also local community organizations and provide a venue for private events.” 
 
Construction work on the NCO Club could begin in mid-2024, with the larger project to restore and renovate the Armory building and surrounding fields and structures getting underway in 2025, foundation leaders say. 
The foundation is holding a series of community tours to show the campus and get feedback about project plans and programming. The next tour dates are October 7th at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and October 29 at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. More information is available on the Pikesville Armory Foundation Facebook page and the foundation’s website, https://pikesvillearmoryfoundation.org/.
Baltimore County Acquires Pikesville Armory from State of Maryland to Support Future Development of Historic Site
Posted on Aug 4th, 2023 Comments (0)
Baltimore County plans to transfer ultimate ownership of the site to the nonprofit Pikesville Armory Foundation to support ongoing efforts to reimagine the site into a community hub. Read more here.