Ruling bars Green Spring Station plan

Developer hopeful, says rejection just a `setback'

May 23, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County judge rejected plans yesterday for an office building at Falls and Greenspring Valley roads, a decision neighbors call a "clear-cut victory" in their fight to preserve the gateway to the Green Spring Valley.

Circuit Judge Robert E. Cadigan reversed a decision by the county Board of Appeals, ruling that Foxleigh Enterprises could not build an office building at Green Spring Station.

Foxleigh submitted plans for an eight-story building in 1998 and an alternative two-story building in 1999. Both proposals called for parking decks, retail shops and office space.

Cadigan ruled that Foxleigh abandoned plans for the eight-story building when it submitted plans for the two-story structure in 1999 and that plans for the smaller building represented a "material change" that was never properly reviewed by county zoning officials.

"I'd say it was a clear-cut victory," said James Tebay, a neighbor who formed a coalition in 1998 to hire lawyers to fight the plans.

Stuart Kaplow, Foxleigh's lawyer, called Cadigan's ruling "unfortunate" and said that he would discuss it with his clients, Thomas Peddy and Herb Fredeking, before deciding whether to appeal.

Peddy said he still hopes to develop the site.

Tebay and K. Donald Proctor, the lawyer for the homeowners, said the ruling means that new plans would be subject to review procedures required for plans submitted after 1992, which ensure a public hearing, notice to neighbors and public input at critical stages of the review process.

Kaplow had argued that the plans were exempt from regulations requiring a public hearing because Foxleigh's original plan was approved in 1983, before current development regulations took effect.

The plans submitted in 1998 and 1999 were only "refinements" of the 1983 plan, he said.

Community leaders objected to both plans, pointing to concerns about traffic and a county law enacted in 1998 that prohibits commercial buildings taller than 35 feet adjacent to rural areas.

Jack Dillon, director of the Valleys Planning Council, said that traffic could have become much worse if Foxleigh won approval.

He said a neighboring project could also increase the area's traffic problems.

The owners of the Greenspring Racquet Club, William and Loretta Hirshfeld, are planning an office complex on their 5-acre parcel near the Foxleigh site.

The Hirshfelds sued in U.S. District Court in Baltimore and in county Circuit Court, contending that the 1998 law restricting commercial development near rural areas was an attempt to block their project. Both lawsuits are pending.

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