In the tussle over mega-development projects in
Baltimore County Executive
After years of little activity, Owings Mills is suddenly a hot spot for development. The long-stalled
All this comes as the council is working on its quadrennial comprehensive zoning plan. The use of the word "comprehensive" might suggest that the council considers how all of the rezoning requests it's considering fit with each other, with previous community plans and with other developments that have already been approved. But that's not quite how it has worked out, at least not in Owings Mills.
Council members typically give each other carte blanche to make zoning decisions in their own districts — a tradition known as "councilmanic courtesy" — but the three developments in this case are split among two districts, and the council members who represent them are at odds about how to proceed. Councilman
Mr. Oliver has said that councilmanic courtesy should not apply to Wegmans, and we agree with him. The county has invested millions in the Metro Centre development, and the approval of a major project nearby that could affect its success is of countywide interest. But he seems not to have seen things that way when he proposed a major loosening of the rules for Metro Centre itself. He introduced legislation that would have allowed the developer, David S. Brown Enterprises, to make the project much denser and taller, with less parking and less open space. Metro Centre is, as the name implies, a transit-oriented development and as such warrants some flexibility on those standards, but Mr. Oliver's proposal went much too far, particularly by removing opportunities for public input and government review.
The Foundry Row developer, Greenberg Gibbons, appears to have interpreted Mr. Oliver's effort as an act of aggression against its project. If Metro Centre got all that extra density, it could throw off the calculations for adequate public facilities — schools, roads, intersections and the like — and make another major development nearby impossible. The solution? Ms. Almond and Councilwoman