Deal close for Calvert School plan

Apartment residents would be compensated

May 02, 2001|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A dispute simmering since September over the Calvert School's planned expansion appears headed for a resolution with the school preparing to proceed with demolition plans for a North Baltimore apartment complex, both sides said yesterday.

Residents of 4300 N. Charles St., a group of garden apartments that the school acquired, would be compensated under a deal in the works between the school and the remaining residents.

"We have been negotiating with Calvert," John Murphy, an attorney representing residents who would be displaced, said yesterday. A final deal has not been struck, Murphy said.

Michael H. Davis, an attorney for the school, said, "We're very close to an agreement. ... They are reviewing the document."

The 6 acres have caused a bitter split in Tuscany-Canterbury since Calvert announced its intentions to add a middle school and playing fields to its campus.

Representatives of the school said yesterday that the deal being hammered out would involve paying an undisclosed sum to residents who then would agree to leave at the end of August.

The agreement would benefit the school because clearing the site could begin in the fall, they said. However, school officials added, much depends on receiving design approval from the planning commission in June. Davis said June 7, from the school's viewpoint, is "the trigger point [for the deal] to become effective."

The agreement is being worked out amid tensions in a neighborhood where many lawns have been dotted with "Stop Calvert" signs.

Last night, after months of internal strife, the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association met to elect officers. In a sign of smoldering resentment against the school, the group voted to continue to oppose expansion and to consult with the mayor.

"Plan B is a tough negotiation with Calvert," said John C. Marchelya, a newly elected vice president.

The issue already had reached upper echelons of government, as some city and state elected officials looked to rescue residents of 4300 N. Charles St. from eviction by the private school. One morning, 2nd District City Councilwoman Bea Gaddy picketed with residents, many of them retired.

Mayor Martin O'Malley, while not taking sides publicly in the dispute, met with Calvert board members and told them that he favored compensation as a fair way to settle the issue, Tony White, his spokesman, said yesterday.

City Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young said yesterday that he was glad to hear a compensation package was on the table.

"We asked them to work it out," he said. "Our resolution was not to stop Calvert, since we don't want to see Calvert move. My main thing was to see residents treated fairly."

"I'm encouraged it could be a win-win," Young said of the proposed deal. "But I hate to see those beautiful apartments go." He said his bill, which would require a public review of school building projects of a certain scale, might soon go to the council floor.

The legislation would not necessarily affect the Calvert project but would apply to similar situations in the future. The school still has to come to terms with the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association on expansion and quality-of-life issues, Young and others told school officials.

Two months ago, the school signed a legal agreement on future growth with neighboring Guilford, and city officials are pressing for a similar covenant with Tuscany-Canterbury.

"What we said was, `Sit down and work it out,'" said Councilwoman Lois A. Garey of the 1st District, who is chairwoman of the land-use committee.

"We'll work something out, with some give and take," Davis said.

The most pressing problem, which could be compounded by adding a middle school, is traffic in the small secluded neighborhood.

"Possession is nine-tenths of the law," said Mary Pat Clarke, the former City Council president and a resident who attended last night's meeting. "But there's also traffic, landscaping and limits."

Davis said a new concept would soon be implemented to reduce the long line of cars that forms on Tuscany Road by the school's door most weekday afternoons.

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