City Council weighs amending bill on zoning review process

Change could affect Calvert School's plans to raze apartments

March 06, 2001|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

The City Council is seriously considering amending a zoning bill that could affect the private Calvert School's plans to demolish an adjacent North Baltimore apartment complex and replace it with two large playing fields and a middle school.

Sheila Dixon, council president, said yesterday that there is support for the bill as proposed, which would require a public review process when a primary or secondary school plans to raze a residential building of 50 or more units. But, Dixon said, she and others believe the bill would be strengthened by changing the language and bringing it to the floor for a vote March 19.

The main change, Dixon and 1st District Councilwoman Lois Garey said, would be to focus on land disturbed rather than dwellings destroyed. The language would state that a public review would be triggered when 20,000 square feet of earth are moved in a primary or secondary school building project.

"There are ongoing negotiations on a bill with citywide implications," said Garey, chairwoman of a six-hour hearing on the issue last week. Some council members who attended a meeting yesterday shared 5th District Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector's view that "a school can't make a unilateral decision apart from the city and community."

Calvert's plans, announced in September, ignited protest because more than 100 people would be displaced from the apartments on 5 acres at 4300 N. Charles St.

Dixon said yesterday that she and others expect Calvert to address tenants' rights and concerns of the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood association, which voted in the fall to oppose the proposed expansion. The bordering neighborhood of Guilford signed an agreement last week to support the school's plan, with restrictions.

A Calvert School representative, Alfred W. Barry III, said yesterday, "We welcome the opportunity to close the loops."

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