Community Issues - Special Laws

Bill 31-17, Class A Offices in ROA (in East Towson)

Sponsor: Marks

This Bill "provides an exception to the general rule" by allowing a new building in the East Towson Community Conservation Area on a lot of not less than 8700 sq ft to be used as a Class A Office building, whereas, the previous limit was for a building which had been occupied as a residence for at least 5 years. Not much of a way to "conserve a community"!

Currently, parcels which meet this size and zoning criteria (all along Pennsylvania Ave) are:

  • 300 (8,700 sq ft, built 1913) (Surprised?)
  • 304 (8,700 sq ft, built 1913) (Are you shocked yet?)
  • 308 (13,920 sq ft, vacant)
  • 312 (21,750 sq ft built 1913)
Since 3 of these were built over a 100 years ago, and apparently served as (very nice looking) residences for the past 5, they have no need for this Bill. It would appear that only the vacant lot at 208 Pennsylvania would benefit. No indication of pending construction has been found. Note that Mr Thompson, through an LLC, purchased this property on 7 Dec 2016 at foreclosure and its use is listed as "commercial" (a vacant lot) and the Bill was introduced less than 5 months later. Perhaps he didn't understand what the zoning was and what that meant.

This Bill appears to be faulty in that "East Towson Community Conservation Area" is not defined in the BCZR. The editor's note in BCZR 300.3 (Reserved) states that "Former Section 300.3, East Towson Community Conservation Area, was repealed by Bill No. 49-2016." That Bill (in Aug 2016) had created the Downtown Towson Overlay District (DT - see 259.16), which one could have assumed would encompass the old "Area", although clearly not the same. For one thing, 259.16 does not allow the DT Overlay to be applied to ROA.

The reference in the Bill to the "East Towson Community Conservation Area" is to the (rather old) Towson Community Plan approved in 1992. That plan described all the things that "should" be done to preserve this historic African-American community. Its bounds are not currently depicted on MyNeighborhood (the whole Towson Plan is).

It's understood that these "community plans" are intended to guide future legislation and development. (It contains lots of "shoulds".) I do not believe they were ever intended to take the place of legislation, especially since they continue to be approved by "Resolutions", not "Bills".

Introduced May 1, 2017; passed June 5, effective June 19

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Updated 17 Aug 2021 by MAP