Chestnut Ridge Country Club sold, CZMP rezoning in progress

Background

For many years Chestnut Ridge Country Club (CRCC) has been a golf, tennis, and swimming club on 232 acres of the most beautiful land in Baltimore County.The Club is off Falls Road just south of Broadway, near the highest point of the entire Jones Falls watershed. Indeed, the property has 5 ponds and is drained by three unnamed tributaries that flow into Dipping Pond Run.

Between 1989 and 1993 the Club engaged in a pattern of illegal actions which caused catastrophic harm to the Run. Prior to the Club’s acts, MD DNR had identified the Run as boasting the last self- sustaining population of brook trout in the Jones Falls watershed. After a series of legal confrontations with the community, the Club’s behavior improved.

Club purchased by developer

Last year, the Club was unable to make payments on its considerable debt which was recently purchased by a company controlled by a developer, Armando Cignarale.

At the request of the Valleys Planning Council and the FRCA, Council member and now Chair Vicki Almond, representing the second councilmanic district, has raised the Club property as an issue in the County 2012 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process as issue 2-031. As a result, at the first Council meeting of September 2012 Councilmember Almond can, with the advice and consent of the other Council members, set the zoning of the Club property howsoever she desires.

Currently the property is zoned entirely RC5 (rural residential). Thus, under County law a developer would be permitted theoretically to build 155 houses. Because of the property is so extraordinarily environmentally sensitive with at least five ponds, three steams, numerous steep slopes and wetlands, it seems doubtful that the County would permit even close to that number of lots.

Impact to the community and environment

Imagine if there were even another 100 households added to our community. How long would it take to drive from the traffic light at Broadway/Padonia and Falls to the Beltway at 8 am on a weekday?  What might it be like to drive from that same intersection east on Padonia to York Road during the evening rush hour?

Consider the devastating impact to the streams, fish, and the rest of the environment from numerous construction sites exposing bare earth and dumping silt into the streams.  How much sediment will flow down those steep slopes and straight into Dipping Pond Run to the Jones Falls to the Harbor to the Bay?

Preserving the character of Chestnut Ridge

It is the position of many of the community residents and therefore, that of the FRCA, that changing the zoning designation to RC7 is necessary to maintain the existing character and livability of the community.  Details about the RC7 zoning classification can be found in the Citizens Guide to Planning and Zoning, in the Introduction, Rural Zones section.

What you can do

If the zoning of the property were to be changed to RC7 (resource preservation) in recognition of its extremely sensitive environment, the maximum number of lots permitted would be a fraction of those that will in fact be created if the property remains RC5 (rural residential).

To provide input regarding your community, to the one person who will be making this decision, Councilman Almond, please contact her at 410-887-3385 or council2@baltimorecountymd.gov.

Additionally, the FRCA will be pursuing its mission to monitor the progress of this issue and disseminate information to the residents of the community, enabling them to make their voices heard in matters that affect the quality of our lives in this part of Baltimore County.

Please attend our next meeting, the date and time of which will be posted in the near future.