Developers decide to resize proposed complex expansion

Foxleigh Enterprises seeks to avoid battle over law limiting size

October 19, 1999|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The developers of Green Spring Station have decided to scale back a proposed expansion of their office and retail complex rather than battle a county law that limits development near rural areas.

Foxleigh Enterprises, the developer of the successful project at Falls and Greenspring Valley roads, will ask the county next week to approve a 101,000-square-foot, two-story office and retail building that would include three levels of underground parking, said Herb Fredeking, a Foxleigh principal.

"We felt our efforts would be better served to build a project rather than sue over one for which we were being opposed," Fredeking said. "After quite a lot of work, we decided it made more sense to reconfigure the building."

Foxleigh had planned an eight-story, 165,000-square-foot structure that would have included five levels of parking and three stories of office and retail space. Residents complained the project would add traffic to roads already crowded near the entrance to the rural Green Spring Valley.

Foxleigh's project, which was approved by several county review agencies, was stalled last year when the Baltimore County Council passed a law limiting the size of commercial developments on land next to rural areas.

The law prohibits the development of buildings more than 35 feet tall next to land zoned rural conservation unless a county hearing officer grants a waiver. Because Green Spring Station is within 750 feet of rural land, the developer could not obtain building permits.

Another project, proposed by the owners of the Greenspring Racquet Club, also was stopped by the new law. The club owners, William and Loretta Hirshfeld, had planned to raze the club and build two office buildings with a total of 242,000 square feet of space and a parking deck.

The Hirshfelds have tried to press forward with their development with lawsuits in state and federal courts but have not succeeded.

Fredeking said Foxleigh's new proposal calls for a 35-foot-tall building, which should comply with the new height restriction.

Some residents, who had opposed the original plan, said they welcomed the change but wanted more details before taking a position on the proposal.

"It's certainly better than anything we have seen," said Jim Tebay, spokesman for the West Seminary Avenue Home Owners Association Coalition.

But Rick Huether, president of the Sunset Knolls Community Association, said any expansion would be too much. "There's too much traffic there now," he said. "It's a safety hazard."

Foxleigh proposes to build on the same site as its original proposal -- a site now occupied by a 250-space parking lot between two retail buildings and Greenspring Racquet Club.

The project will include 750 to 800 parking spaces.

The developer will ask the county's Development Review Commission to approve the new project as a revision to the previously approved plan. "We're not introducing a new project so much as refining the one previously approved," Fredeking said. Several businesses have expressed interest in the project, he said.

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