Residents raise concerns about land to be auctioned Group notes congestion near Cockeysville

September 16, 1998|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

The auction of a prime piece of commercial real estate near Cockeysville is triggering concern among community residents who worry about the impact of a possible mega-car dealership or big-box store in their neighborhood.

Many members of the Greater Timonium Community Council -- a group of 26 community associations -- say they fear that a Car Max-type operation selling thousands of vehicles or a giant retailer would overwhelm congested York Road near Cranbrook Road.

"We have a situation of what the area can handle, not just aesthetically, but traffic-wise," said Kathleen F. Beadell, president of the community organization. "We don't need to have something intensive there. It's too crowded."

The county is selling the complex of public works buildings on the triangular wedge of land -- bordered by York and Alms House roads and Galloway Avenue in Texas -- to the highest bidder at 11 a.m. Sept. 23 at the site. Plans call for the county's maintenance operations there to be moved.

The property's zoning allows myriad commercial uses, from shopping centers to warehouse-style stores to office buildings.

"It is the most intense of the business zones there is," said Laurie Hay, the area's county planner. "It allows the most permissive commercial use."

But Robert J. Barrett, special assistant to Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, said the purchaser would be subject to the county development process, requiring a plan and public meetings.

"The community is not going to be disregarded," Barrett said. "What we're trying to accomplish is selling the property and getting the highest value for the taxpayer."

He said the county has received inquiries about the 11-acre tract from retail developers, car dealers and brokers representing numerous, unnamed clients.

Beadell said that a community survey conducted last year indicated that the corridor is saturated with car lots, strip shopping centers, gas stations and fast-food restaurants. "Do we need more?" she asked.

Although many residents say they would prefer a park or athletic fields on the land, former GTCC president Eric Rockell acknowledged that it is "an affluent area."

"This is a marketer's dream to come into Timonium or Cockeysville," he said.

Pub Date: 9/16/98

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