Commercial Revitalization Districts

These districts are created and modified by a Resolution, not a Bill, since, originally, they were not intended to change zoning or what uses were allowed on properties including in these Districts. Their only intent was to provide the possibilities of financial incentives for revitalization, such as low-cost loans for improving buildings, signage, landscaping, etc., as well as acquisition by the County through eminent domain. There are now 20 Districts.

The authority to create such Districts, and the purpose, is covered in the Baltimore County Code Section 26-1-101. The process requires a "local referendum within the area to be developed or a larger area, if deemed appropriate" (a completely ambiguous "if" - there probably should be a comma before "or a larger area"), which doesn't seem to ever have been done.

It does not appear that such a "referendum" was held for recently created Districts.

The County Council established the revitalization property tax credit in Bill 11-91 and established the Districts to enable certain property owners to take advantage of the credits.

Further, the creation of a District is just the first step, which should be followed-up with the creation of a "plan", which itself must be approved by Resolution. It is only after the approval of such a plan that anything else should occur, such as the acquisition of land by eminent domain. See here for community plans.

Note: The attempt to apply this eminent domain process to the hastily created Essex Revitalization District lead to a nasty fight by citizens to stop this taking of private property for gain by commercial developers.

However, over the years, various Bills have incorporated references to these Districts in zoning regulations, either in allowing additional uses, providing exceptions to existing limits, or mandating additional requirements. For example, the following Bills (since 2007) and existing sections of County Code:

  • Bill 8-08, exempts some buildings from Design Review Panel in Towson District
  • Bill 9-08, provides for reduced open-space fee for PUD in Towson (repealed in Bill 91-15)
  • Bill 86-09, allows wholesale bakery
  • Bill 88-10, Large Retail Stores, but not in Revitalization District
  • Bill 38-12, Development - Compatibility Requirements
  • Bill 50-12, require Design Review Panel review in Perry Hall District
  • Bill 13-13, require Design Review Panel review in part of Loch Raven District
  • Bill 21-13, allows theater by right in all districts
  • Bill 36-13, allows commercial parking on residential
  • Bill 38-13, requires bicycle parking in Catonsville District
  • Bill 48-13, requires bicycle parking in Loch Raven, Arbutus, Lansdowne, National Pike Districts
  • Bill 53-14, requires bicycle parking in Honeygo District
  • Bill 25-15, allows sign in DR in Pikesville District
  • Bill 49-15, decreases parking requirement for certain retail in Pikesville
  • Bill 61-15, requires Special Exception for cannabis dispensary in all disrtricts
  • Bill 79-15, exempts properties from the restrictions due to inadequate water, sewer, and roads in all districts
  • Bill 67-16, parking Requirements
  • Bill 21-17, requires Special Exception for cannabis dispensary in all Districts
  • Bill 23-17, allows specific tree care company in BL in Parkville District
  • Bill 72-17, restricts parking in Dundalk District
  • Bill 7-18, allows tattoo parlor in Arbutus District
  • Bill 49-19, allows live music entertainment on CCC in Catonsville and Arbutus Districts
  • Bill 47-19, allows assisted-living in BL and others in Pikesville District
  • Bill 105-20, allows reduced parking requirements in Liberty Road District
  • Bill 6-21, allows carwash in BL in Rolling Road/Windsor Mills District
  • BCC 11-4-303, exempts from Development Impact surcharge
  • BCC 32-6-111(h)(6), exempts from development impact fee
  • BCZR 230.3 Special Exception for Retail business (in BL) if not in District.
As a result, a Resolution to create or expand a Revitalization District takes on the function of modifying zoning or uses. Thus, it should be called and treated as a "Bill" which requires a different process, such as one month for review by citizens.

In some cases, these Districts have included residentially-zoned properties, which is completely contrary to their purpose (and title). Here again, this has allowed some uses not otherwise allowed.

List of Commercial Revitalization Districts

There are 20 Districts in the County as follows:
AreaCreatedChanged byPlan?DRP area?
Arbutus*Res 23-15NoYes
Baltimore National PikeRes 69-03Res 67-07, 46-18No
Catonsville* NoYes
Cowenton-EbenezerRes 86-14 No
Dundalk*Res 126-21NoYes
EssexRes 39-12Res 127-21No
Honeygo GatewayRes 67-21 No
LansdowneRes 112-07 No
Liberty Road* No
Loch Raven*Res 11-13, 50-16NoParts
Merritt-Sollers PointRes 67-16 No
North PointRes 39-12 No
Overlea-Rossville*Res 48-17, 9-19No
Parkville* No
Perry HallRes 47-11Res 47-17, 73-17, 42-20, 129-21NoYes
Pikesville*Res 5-15, 69-17Yes - 2003Yes
Reisterstown* **
Rolling Road-Windsor Mill RoadRes 17-21No
Towson*Res 24-08, 53-11, 73-15, 130-19NoS& E Towson
Woodlawn*Res 1-08, 95-10No

Note: There is some confusion on what is subject to a DRP review. BCC §32-4-404 requires the review if "located in area described by map in the Comprehensive Manual of Development Policies". However, legislation modifying the bounds of a District does not directly modify that document, which is an Adminsitrative function so might lag in publication.

* While these had been designated earlier, supposedly by Res 114-97, Resolution 21-12 tried to reconfirm their existence, but was withdrawn. Res 28-12 tried again, but was also withdrawn. No further attempt seems to have been made, so the official status of these districts is unclear.

** As far as can be determined, Pikesville is the only District that has an explicit "Plan". Many, such as Overlea/Fullerton have "Community Plans", but they were not created specifically to address the Commercial Revitalization District or plans for it. Others were created long before the Commercial Revitalization process began. One for Reisterstown was requested (of the Office of Planning) in 2008, but seems to never have been completed.

Updated 14 June 2022