Balto. County Council OKs two areas for renewal plan

February 08, 2005|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's first two "renaissance opportunity areas" were approved last night by the County Council, opening up land in Pikesville for possible redevelopment under County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s signature plan for the revitalization of older neighborhoods.

Projects proposed along two stretches of Reisterstown Road south of the Beltway - one on the west side from Dreher Avenue to Colonial Road, the other on the east side from near Sherwood Avenue to Sudbrook Lane - will be eligible for a new development approval process agreed to by the council in December.

Under the legislation, developers of selected projects within designated areas can bypass a property's zoning regulations and some steps in the development review process as long as they agree to take part in a community-intensive set of planning meetings called a charrette. At least 80 percent of the community participants in a charrette must agree on a development plan for it to move forward.

Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat, has said he wanted to be the first to designate land to draw attention to recently completed and existing revitalization work in Pikesville. Last night, he noted several recent projects in the Reisterstown Road corridor, including new stores, banks and restaurants, and said he wants "to continue this momentum."

So far, he said, there have been no specific projects proposed for the new process, "however, all bids are open."

Bills designating three additional parcels - in Towson and the Loch Raven area - were introduced last night by Councilman Vincent J. Gardina. Those matters are scheduled for a vote March 7.

In other business last night, the council unanimously approved an amended building code that was held up for more than a year so that provisions that grew out of Tropical Storm Isabel could be added or clarified.

Under the amended code, all oil and propane storage tanks must be anchored by an engineered system before they can be filled or refilled. During the September 2003 storm, many tanks broke loose and their contents spilled, causing environmental contamination, according to county officials.

Homeowners have in the past been required to sign agreements saying they will not use the area created by elevating their homes above the ground as living space. But the amended code takes it one step further, mandating that those agreements be filed in county land records as "Declarations of Land Restrictions." The change, which pairs the document with a property's deed, assures that new owners know about the restriction, county officials said.

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