Owings Mills residents forming opposition to proposed car dealership

10-acre CarMax lot would not fit into master plan, they say

November 20, 2001|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Even before formal plans have been introduced, Owings Mills residents are fighting a proposal to build a CarMax used car dealership in their community.

The Richmond, Va.-based company recently contacted Baltimore County planning and economic development officials with its plan to build on 10 acres on the northeast corner of the intersection of Owings Mills Boulevard and Reisterstown Road.

But community groups and residents oppose the plan, saying it conflicts with the county's goal of limiting commercial development along Owings Mills Boulevard.

County planners also oppose the proposal.

Residents brought their objections to the county planning board late last week. The board is in the process of considering where to allow commercial development throughout the county.

Vicki Almond, president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council, told the board that a commercial designation for the proposed CarMax site is inconsistent with the county's master plan.

"We would like to see Owings Mills Boulevard stay the way it is planned under the master plan," Almond said.

Billy Chase, a county planning board member from 1987 to 1997, expressed similar sentiments. Chase told the board that under the master plan, commercial development in the area is designated for Reisterstown Road.

"We're fighting to keep the integrity" of the master plan, Chase said.

CarMax officials declined to comment on their proposal. Calls to the office of Scott Barhight, a Towson lawyer representing the company, were not returned.

County planning officials oppose the CarMax proposal because it is not consistent with the county master plan, said Jeffrey Long, chief of design review for the county planning department.

"We have seen few commercial projects on Owings Mills Boulevard," Long said. "Those proposals have met with a lot of opposition."

CarMax has the land under contract from Eastern Land and Resources Corp. of Annville, Pa., according to county officials.

County Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a north county-Owings Mills Republican, said CarMax officials showed him architectural drawings for the proposed used car dealership but that he doesn't support the project.

"I think Reisterstown Road is already inundated with car dealerships," McIntire said.

The property is in a business major zone, which allows new car, but not used car, dealerships. CarMax would need a special exception from the county zoning commissioner to build, Long said. The plan would also have to navigate the county development-review process.

CarMax has 40 dealerships nationwide, including one in White Marsh.

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