Chestnut Ridge Country Club community update – October 2013

Summary 

As many of you know, the Valleys Planning Council, along with the Falls Road Community Association and a number of organizations and individuals, supported the downzoning of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property during the 2012 CZMP. The 232-acre property on Falls Road just sought of Padonia/Broadway was ultimately downzoned from RC5 to RC7, and that downzoning is now being challenged. The issue is a hot one, with battles on multiple fronts. During the rezoning cycle, Councilwoman Vicki Almond received an outpouring of calls, letters and emails regarding the property and made the courageous decision to downzone the property in an effort to protect Dipping Pond Run and curb the pressure on existing infrastructure already bursting at the seams. Those that support the new, more restrictive zoning are joining together to oppose an attempt to undo the zoning change and reinstate the former RC5 zoning. We hope you will join us in these efforts to maintain the more restrictive RC7 zoning. We believe our case is strong and that the evidence is clear that there was no error committed on the part of the Baltimore County Council. Below is a brief summary of what has transpired and what is coming next.

Status

November 2011

Chestnut Ridge Country Club, a 230-acre property on Falls Road, closed after 50 years of operation.

February 2012

Chestnut Ridge Country Club purchased by Armando Cignarale, a local developer who runs Cignal Corp. The property was purchased for $5.3 million with no contingencies regarding its future development.

August 2012

Baltimore County Council downzoned the Chestnut Ridge Country Club Property, changing the zoning from RC5 to RC7. This changed the maximum residential density from 114 homes to 9 homes.

December 2012

Owner/developer of CRCC filed suit against Baltimore County in the Circuit Court, suing for $10 million and a return to the RC5 zoning. In May 2013, the Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit after the county argued that the developer should have exhausted the county’s administrative appeals process first.

February 2013

Owner/developer of CRCC filed a Petition for Reclassification with the Baltimore County Board of Appeals, claiming that the County Council made an error in changing the zoning on the property from RC5 to RC7.

 June 2013

Adopting the position of the Baltimore County planning staff, the County Planning Board advised the County Board of Appeals that the County Council made an error in downzoning the property. The Planning Board brushed aside Maryland law and legal arguments with regard to the magnitude of “error” required to justify reclassification overriding the County Council’s vote. Instead the Planning Board simply reiterated its recommendation during the 2012 CZMP that the zoning should be maintained as RC5.

Upcoming Actions

October 2013

The case before the Board of Appeals will begin. The hearing will open on October 30; however, the developer’s attorneys have said they plan to open the case, file an amended petition, and ask for a delay until December.

October 28, 2013

The developer and county will hold a Community Input Meeting at 7 p.m. on a proposed 8-lot plan under the existing RC7 zoning. The meeting was scheduled for the same date and time as the FRCA annual meeting. (The developer hopes to go forward with a 60-70 lot plan if he can get the zoning changed, but this is an interim or fallback plan that could be approved under the current zoning.) The meeting will be held at the Mays Chapel Methodist Church on Jennifer Road in Timonium.

November 4, 2013

The developer and county will hold a second Community Input Meeting at 7 p.m. on a proposed 8-lot plan under the existing RC7 zoning. The meeting will be held at the Mays Chapel Methodist Church on Jennifer Road in Timonium. A second meeting was scheduled due to the conflict with the FRCA meeting.

December 2013

The Board of Appeals case goes forward. Dates scheduled for the hearing are: December 10, 11, 17, and 18.

You Can Help

Many residents took the time to contact Councilwoman Almond during the 2012 CZMP to express their concern about future development of the property and requesting a downzoning. Your continued expressions of support are needed. Our most pressing need at the moment is to raise funds for the legal and expert fees associated with the upcoming Board of Appeals hearing. Please consider sending in a tax-deductible contribution to the VPC for this project today. We need to raise $15,000 in the next six weeks to see us through this first and most important phase. If everyone who is concerned chips in, we will have sufficient resources. Special project contributions are used exclusively for legal and expert fees associated with the case. VPC has engaged the services of attorney Richard Burch for the zoning reclassification case.

Please make a tax-deductible donation to this special project today by sending a check to:

The Valleys Planning Council

PO Box 5402

Towson, Maryland 20185

Write “Chestnut Ridge” in check memo line.

 

Referendum to Overturn All District 2 CZMP Decisions (which would restore RC5 to Chestnut Ridge)

On a related front, VPC has joined with several other groups to oppose the Referendum initiative that has been spearheaded by the developers opposed to the Solo Cup site redevelopment known as Foundry Row. Several developers displeased with zoning changes in the last cycle are supporting that effort. Those seeking the Referendum hope to put an issue on the 2014 election ballot with the goal of overturning all District 2 CZMP decisions. If the referendum were successful, the changes to Chestnut Ridge and other zoning changes in District 2 would be overturned, restoring the prior zoning.

Many residents reported questionable tactics and misleading information during the petition drive. The Board of Elections found the petitions “deficient” and denied the request to put the item to referendum. Those seeking the referendum have filed an appeal of that decision with the Circuit Court. The VPC and other parties have filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, believing that the parties filing the appeal do not have standing. The Circuit Court case has been assigned to Judge Alexander. A scheduling conference is set for October 23rd and a Motions Hearing is set for November 26 at 9:30 a.m. Attorney J. Carroll Holzer is representing the VPC, the Meadows HOA, and the Greater Greenspring Association. VPC is not requesting funds for the referendum case but is very much in need of funds for the reclassification case. 

For additional info, call the Valleys Planning Council office at 401-337-6877.

FRCA Annual Dinner – October 28, 2013

Invitation

You are cordially invited to the Falls Road Community Association annual dinner on Monday, October 28, 2013, at the Oregon Ridge Lodge.

  • 5:50 – cocktails (beer and wine)
  • 6:30 – buffet dinner
  • 7:15 – meeting

Cocktails, dinner, and the meeting for only $10.00 per person

Come and hear about important events in the community such as zoning and land use issues such as the development of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club and the Mays Chapel Elementary School.

Our guest speaker will be the renowned environmentalist, writer, and journalist, Mr. Tom Horton.

Invite your neighbors!  Give them a copy of our community notice in local papers with all of the details.

Agenda

The dinner will be followed by a meeting including updates from the Board of Directors and a talk by Mr. Horton.

Tom Horton is a renowned environmentalist and long-time champion of the environment in Maryland.  He is an award winning author of eight books about the Chesapeake Bay and is best known as a Baltimore Sun columnist from 1972 to 2006.

Questions and issues of importance to the members of the community association will be addressed as well.

RSVP to the Dinner

To reserve your place at the dinner, please send $10.00 per person along with your name, address, and phone number to:

FRCA

PO Box 555

Brooklandville, MD 21022

Please make checks payable to “The FRCA”.

For more information, please call Carol at (410) 252-8662.

Please RSVP by October 21st.


View Larger Map

President’s Message – September 2013

Our Annual Dinner is set this year for Monday, October 28, 2013.  For many years our community has gathered every fall to break bread together and discuss the state of our community.  So, please come share a good meal with beer, wine, soft drinks included for the ridiculous price of $10/person.  The evening concludes with a brief business meeting at which we elect officers and directors, and everyone leaves well-fed and content to return home under our tranquil, rural, star-lit sky.  But what if there were no officers or directors to elect?

The Falls Road Community Association has been the guardian of the Falls Road community for more than 65 years.  Against the unrelenting pressure of developers and their political spawn to destroy our beautiful land, the FRCA has been a counter-balancing force of preservation.  Just last year the FRCA played an essential role in the campaign that persuaded our County Council Member Vicki Almond to downzone the 232 acre Chestnut Ridge Country Club property from RC 5 for maximum development (up to 115 houses) to RC 7 for Resource Preservation (9 houses).  Our community was thus spared the devastating effect on our traffic, wells, and streams of additional 50-100 homes on Falls Road.

But the FRCA cannot continue without volunteers.  Only a handful of folks still attend Board meetings, and a few of them have served more than 20 years, and the average length of service exceeds 10 years.  But time marches on, and your Board members have aged.  Retirement and grand-children consume more time, and it becomes harder every month to muster the energy to do what must be done.  So, sometimes “IT” does not get done