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