Please attend the CZMP vote on Chestnut Ridge CC – August 28, 2012

The Falls Road Community Association

Cordially invites you

To Witness a Potential Miracle

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In the Council Chambers in the Old Courthouse

At 400 Washington Avenue in Towson!


More than 600 residents of our area have contacted our Councilwoman Vicki Almond via petitions, letters, emails, meetings, and calls encouraging her to preserve the integrity of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club (CRCC) property by rezoning it to RC7.

Because of this extraordinary effort our community is counteracting the influence of well_financed interests that seek to develop the CRCC property at a density that would do irreparable damage to the property’s extended ecosystem and change the character of the Falls Road Corridor for the worse and forever.

We Have Made Good Progress, but this Battle Is Far from Over. 

Ms Almond knows the Club property is environmentally valuable and vulnerable, and she wants to preserve it.  Ms Almond is well aware of the damage our community will sustain if the housing density on Club property is maximized, and she wants to spare us that damage.  In sum, Ms Almond wants to serve us, her constituents, she wants to vote to change the zoning of the Club property to RC7 as a resource preservation zone.

Ms. Almond’s final decision is only a few days away – and we cannot let up.  Pressure on Ms Almond to back off and let the land be destroyed is enormous.  Thus, it will take a miracle for Ms Almond to retain her political independence and do what should be done.

Make it happen….       Do your part……..

Contact Vicki Almond Again!

Visit on the web

Or directly at

telephone:  410-887-3385        fax:   410-887-5791

So, please join us waiting for a miracle at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

in the County Council Chambers in the Old Courthouse in Towson.

Residents urge Councilwoman Almond for RC7 status for the Chestnut Ridge Country Club

Presidents’s Message: Residents Contact Councilwoman Almond in support of RC7 zoning for the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property

With a stroke of her pen, on August 28, 2012 our County Council representative and President  Vicki Almond can preserve more land in District 2 than Dutch Ruppersberger, Jim Smith and Kevin Kamenetz combined multiplied by 1000. The 232 acres that were Chestnut Ridge Country Club abound in streams, ponds, springs and wetlands. By zoning that land RC7, which is plainly the proper classification, Ms Almond can preserve most of that subwatershed, spare our roads 40-60 houses of traffic, spare our water table 40-60 wells to compete with ours, give Dipping Pond Run a chance to survive, and possibly save the Falls Road community. With that same act, Ms Almond would become our first Council representative to place the well-being of her constituents above loyalty to the politicians in Towson and their developer financiers. Below are samples of the 500+ messages from constituents to Ms. Almond via

Harold Burns, President

Contact Councilwoman Almond

Please contact Councilwoman Vicki Almond to express your support for rezoning the former Chestnut Ridge Country Club Property to RC-7 to reduce the building density, reduce the impact on existing wells in the area, reduce traffic congestion, and preserve the character of the community.


Councilwoman Vicki Almond

Old Court House

400 Washington Ave.

Towson, MD, 21204

Letters from the community

07/11/12 – Dear Councilperson Almond,

The prospective development of the property formerly owned by the Chestnut Ridge Country Club (CRCC) raises great concerns for those of us who live in the Falls Road corridor. We believe the property zoning is RC-7 because we have had issues with our well, along with several of our neighbors. Depletion of the water table with any more development will hurt the entire Falls Road corridor. Our entire neighborhood (Springhill Farm) is against further development in this area. It is almost impossible to drive down Falls Road in the morning and the traffic at Falls and Padonia/Broadway is always backed up. Sincerely, Rusty & Michelle


06/27/12 – Councilman Almond,

We have been living at this address for about eight years. Our water flow has diminished greatly in those years. I blame the lower flow of water on the amount of recent development in the Falls Road area. Pretty soon at this rate, we will be out of water for our homes!!!! I am requesting a down zoning to RC-7. Sincerely, Susan K.

Continue reading

Baltimore Sun article: Neighbors fight to preserve golf club land

The Baltimore Sun published an informative article on Sunday, July 8, 2012 regarding the community efforts to downzone (reduce the housing density) of the development on the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property, citing environmental impacts as well as the quality of life issues that will occur if the present zoning remains.

The article details considerable community support for having Councilwoman Vicki Almond  downzone the property to RC-7 (approximately 10 houses permitted on the property) through the quadrennial CZMP process.

Contact Councilwoman Vicki Almond to express your thoughts on the matter: (410) 887-3885 or launched to preserve the Chestnut Country Club property

The issue

Recently, the Chestnut Ridge Country Club folded and a developer bought the mortgage and took title to the land.  The developer potentially can place up to 100 homes on this land and destroy the environmental buffer that protects the last trout stream in the Jones Falls Watershed and its surrounding wooded valley that protects a unique watershed and ecosystem.  Intense development of this land means up to another 200 vehicles crowding falls road, creating traffic gridlock at its failing intersections and placing additional financial stress on the county budget.  Intense development will generate up to 100 new wells, putting your own wells at risk.  The bulldozing of this land for another 100 houses will destroy the rural nature of our community and your property values!

Map of Chestnut Ridge Country Club property and number of homes

Too many homes for the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property

The County Council is presently considering the down-zoning of the 232 acres from RC-5  (rural residential) to RC-7 (resource  preservation) as part of the comprehensive zoning map process that takes place every four years.  In December 2011, Councilperson Vicki Almond, your Council member in the Second District, introducedComprehensive Zoning Map process issue #2-031 to address the appropriateness of the existing RC-5 zoning in light of the sale of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club.   According to the County Code, the purpose and intent of RC-7 is resource preservation, more specifically to protect and preserve valuable cultural, historical, recreational and environmental resources through a low-density rural zone.

Take action

There is only one way to have the property zoned RC-7.  That is to have the District 2 Councilperson, Ms. Vicki Almond, make the request through the CZMP process at the end of the summer.

What will impact her making her decision is hearing from you.

Please go to, educate yourself on the issue, and contact Ms. Almond (there’s an easy link to send her an e-mail), and keep going back to and to follow the progress, get updates, and participate in having your community the retain the character that attracted us in the first place.

Proposed Columbia Gas Expansion Will Have Significant Impact To Area


Earlier this year, several households in the community received letters from Columbia Gas Transmission regarding possible planned work involving existing gas easements on our properties. Many of us did not initially pay a great deal of attention since the rights of way are well known and we have come to expect a certain amount of maintenance and disruption from time to time. However it turns out this is a much more expansive project than was indicated by the letter.

Much to our dismay, during several outreach meetings held by the company, we discovered that Columbia Gas is in the early stages of Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) approval for permanently doubling the width of the existing easement from 25 feet to 50 feet over the course of 21.3 miles from Owings Mills to Fallston in order to lay a new 26 inch diameter pipeline. This is a $150M extension as part of a massive multi-billion dollar interstate project to increase pipeline redundancy from the Gulf States to the Northeast. Their plan states that construction would disturb about 300 acres of land for this portion of the project. Preliminary work would start late fall 2012, with heavy construction running from late spring through October 2013. The proposed plan, which is in the pre-filing stage at the FERC can be found under Docket No. PF12-6-000 at

A very useful summary can be found at the Federal Register including specific directions for how to file a comment or concern.  Please note that the filing period ends on May 16, 2012.

Impact to the Falls Road Corridor

The path of the pipeline goes directly through many private residential and public properties in the Falls Road community: from  Greenspring, across Falls Road just south of Ridge Road, through Oregon Ridge Park, and through Hayfields before continuing  Northeast toward Harford County.  Not only does Columbia Gas propose permanently doubling the size of the easements, but the following impacts are expected:

  • Temporary easements along most of the pipeline in addition to the new permanent easements in order to build temporary roads and stage and store construction equipment, with a total width of up to 125 feet during construction.
  • Possible blasting through granite in residential neighborhoods.
  • Dawn to dusk construction, 6 days per week.
  • Possible destruction of existing homes, septic systems, wells, pools, sheds, and other structures to make way for the pipeline.
  • Extensive clear cutting and destruction of mature trees on the temporary easements and new permanent easements.

Community Input

Given that this is an interstate project subject to federal regulations, Columbia Gas is required to go through a certain number of reviews before final approval is given by the FERC. The project is currently in the scoping stage, which formally ends on May 16, 2012. There will be two meetings held by FERC representatives soliciting community input on environmental concerns:

  • May 8, 2012 7:00 PM EDT, Oregon Ridge Lodge, 13401 Beaver Dam Rd, Cockeysville 21030
  • May 9, 2012 7:00 PM EDT, Youth’s Benefit Elementary School Cafeteria, 1901 Fallston Rd., Fallston 21047

Those interested should review the plan available online under Docket No. PF12-6-000 at, and plan to attend one of the meetings.  It is vitally import that the FERC sees community responsiveness first hand.

Consequences of Inaction

The likely consequences of a lack of community responsiveness to this project are long term and severe. If the FERC approves the project, then Columbia Gas will be granted eminent domain. Once that happens the community will have no recourse, and they will be able to condemn properties deemed uncooperative. We all have invested too much in maintaining the pristine nature of our local environment to stand by while the federal government and an out of state company plows through our countryside at will. Please show your support by attending one of the meetings above and contacting your local, state, and federal representatives to voice your concerns.

Take Action

If anyone would like more information on local opposition to the Columbia Gas pipeline expansion, please contact Rich Scheper at, 410-561-1290.

Online Resources

To search the FERC document database for this docket, including official documents from Columbia Gas, FERC, and public input:

  1. Go to the Documents and Filings general search page on the FERC site.
  2. Change the Date Range to be from 1/1/2012 to the current date.
  3. Enter the Docket Number: PF12-6
  4. Submit your search request.

To submit comments or concerns:

  1. Go to the Documents and Filings eComment page.
  2. Follow the process to create an account and file a comment.
  3. Your comment will be included in the official record.


Chestnut Ridge Country Club sold, CZMP rezoning in progress


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

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.

Forest Restoration at Oregon Ridge Park

The FRCA understands that the County will be cutting down a limited number of trees within the western boundary of the Oregon Ridge Park.

A few months ago, Don Outen of DEPS spoke at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center in connection with the development of a Small Watershed Action Plan for the watershed that includes the Park. In a dynamic and enlightening presentation, Mr Outen explained that more than a 100 years ago, before there was a Park, the area was completely logged. As a result, the succeeding generation of trees started growing more or less simultaneously and are now approaching maturity.

A detailed study of the forest system at Oregon Ridge has revealed that the trees are greatly overcrowded in places and, with additional pressure from deer, are not regenerating. As a result, the forest is under stress and will be subject to waves of mortality, such as the recent loss of 18 acres due to a Gypsy moth infestation. The existing oak-dominated forest is an important resource for habitat and water quality, but without regeneration the forest will continue to decline.

A small 25 acre area of the 895 acre Park will be thinned just enough to stimulate regeneration of oak. Many of the trees to be removed are not healthy, and it is hoped that their removal will allow the continued growth of older high-quality trees as well as the growth of seedlings for the future.

CZMP: Hunt Valley Presbyterian Church seeks change in zoning

Hunt Valley Presbyterian Church at 13015 Beaver Dam Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21030  has filed an issue to downzone its property from RC-4 to RC-3.  The church’s request is designated as issue 3-038 in the 3rd councilmanic district in the 2012 CZMP.

The church has informed its neighbors, via a letter, of its plan for growth.  Community members who attended the meeting with church representatives informed the FRCA of the church’s intention to double the size of the building on the 26.57 acre church property, potentially adding 15,000 square feet and additional parking.

Some neighbors have contacted the FRCA and expressed their concerns with the church’s plans to expand, recalling the original conflict with the community when the church was constructed in 1998.


Deception Burglaries

Deception Burglaries Capt. Martin Lurz – BCOPD Precinct 7

These incidents seem to increase with the arrival of warmer weather, although they can occur any time of the year. MOST IMPORTANTLY – SHARE this information with your neighbors
and family.

Deception burglaries have one common theme – to get homeowners distracted by getting them to walk into another room or, more frequently, asking the homeowner to step outside and then getting them to move to the side or rear of the house (out of view) while a second suspect enters the house through the unlocked door and steals whatever is quickly accessible.

Here is how it works:

The first suspect will come to the door and use some type of ruse to win the confidence of the homeowner. For example, the suspect may tell the homeowner he works for a fence company (TV, or landscaping company — you name it, they’ve tried them all) and tell the homeowner to step outside with him so he can examine the property line in the rear of the property. If the owner does step outside, they will generally leave the door unlocked and the first suspect will escort the owner around the back out of view of the door. The first suspect may use a cell phone to “call his boss” when, in fact, he is ACTUALLY CALLING THE SECOND SUSPECT to let him know that entry into the home can now be made. After about ten minutes, the first suspect and the homeowner will walk back into the house AFTER the second suspect has slipped out. These burglars generally take small items, a purse or wallet, or jewelry that are easy to grab and

There are generally two common themes to all these type burglaries:
A ruse or “scam” is used to gain trust and confidence.
The elderly are more likely to be a victim of these burglaries

There are many variations to the “scam” burglar, here are several examples. Two suspects come to the door and ask the homeowner to accept a package for their neighbor. If they are allowed in the house, one will say she is thirsty and ask for water. As the homeowner walks the one to the kitchen and engages in conversation, the second one slips off and steals small

In the Power Company employee scam, the suspect says they are an employee and needs to get to the basement to investigate a “problem in the lines”. When the homeowner walks that person to the basement, the second suspect enters and steals the valuables.

DO NOT let anyone that you do not know and trust into your house. Employees of BGE carry ID photos. CALL the company for verification. IF THE “EMPLOYEE” PROVIDES YOU WITH THE NUMBER FOR VERIFICATION, DON’T CALL THAT NUMBER! CALL THE NUMBER LISTED IN THE PHONE BOOK. The reason is that if the person at the door is trying to scam you, the number they supply is probably the cell phone number of the second suspect who will tell you “Yes it’s perfectly OK to let that person into your house.”

If you are really suspicious, tell the person you are calling 911. A legitimate employee will wait for the police, the deception burglars won’t.

Stay alert and get the word out, especially to elderly neighbors, family members and friends. Awareness is key.

Tell them to call 911 immediately to report suspicious activity. Memorize the suspect’s appearance (scars, marks, anything unusual). If a vehicle description and/or license plate number can safely be obtained write it down immediately and provide it to the 911 operator.

Be alert, be aware, be curious and call 911.

Chestnut Ridge / Sater’s Lane Baptist Church

In January the FRCA was notified of proposed changes at the Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church on Saters’s Lane, north of Maryvale. Specifically, Baptist Family and Children’s Services Inc, a non profit entity, wants to buy the Baptist Church built in 1995 on Saters’s Lane and use its office space, while the congregation continued to meet in the sanctuary.

The proposal seemed innocuous enough, but would require a special exception. To obtain a special exception a landowner must file a Petition with the County and have a hearing before the County Zoning Officer. After reviewing the matter, FRCA Director Dan Meenan suggested questions about the proposed use; and the answers were alarming, e.g., the proposed use would have 14 full-time and 2 half-time employees.

So, the FRCA Board decided to notify nearby residents. The hearing was set for April 24. The FRCA sent out its notice about April 16. Within days, substantial community opposition emerged, including Bob Chertkof, President of the Clearings Community Association; the community met and decided to hire counsel. By April 21, Azrael Franz, Esquire, had been retained, and Dan Meenan had sent another notice to the community stating additional information he had discovered.

On April 24th, W. Franz and about 20 local residents appeared at the hearing which went well for the community as testimony revealed that the Church congregation is small and barely surviving financially, while Baptist Family is large and currently operates from its headquarters in Columbia, NM, for which it pays rent of $175,000/year. Robert H. Gerstmyer, Executive Director of Baptist Family, testified that it wants to relocate from Columbia to Saters Lane. Mr. Gerstmyer is also a member of the Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church and would soon be its new part-time pastor, as the current full-time pastor is resigning due to the diminishing congregation.

On May 20, the County Hearing Officer issued his Opinion in which he found that Baptist Family is a charitable organization and not a religious entity. Thus, if the property were transferred to Baptist Family, the property would cease to be owned by a religious institution; and therein was the “fatal flaw to the Petitioners’ special hearing request.”

Specifically, the Hearing Officer found that the Development Plan now in force mandates that the church building is to be used for church services and church-related activities by church members and guests [which restriction] was specifically negotiated and placed on the Development Plan by the residents and neighbors … in 1994 [because they] were very concerned at that time that the church property would be utilized by some other business entity ….

In essence, [if the Petition were granted,] the subject property would be converted into an office building with a subsidiary lease to the … Church to hold services on Sundays for a small number of its members. This property is zoned RC 5 and such a transition to office use is not permitted within that zone. For these reasons, the Petitioners’ special hearing request must be denied.

Baptist Family has not, however, abandoned its quest, and the community is in negotiations with its counsel.

The FRCA will keep you posted.