2 more areas in Balto. Co. get renewal status

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

The Baltimore County Council approved two additional "renaissance opportunity areas" last night, making land in the Loch Raven area eligible for redevelopment under County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s signature plan for the revitalization of older neighborhoods.

Selected projects proposed along two stretches -- one a residential area sandwiched between Loch Raven Boulevard and Hillsway Avenue, the other a commercial strip along Joppa Road west of Perring Parkway -- can earn approval by using a community-intensive development process approved by the council in December.

A third area, at York Road and Towsontown Boulevard in Towson, was initially scheduled for a vote last night but was removed from the agenda after Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, who proposed all three zones, decided to expand the third area to include property along Burke Avenue.

A bill designating the larger area was reintroduced during yesterday's meeting and is scheduled for a vote April 4.

"They all have a certain level of underutilization," Gardina said of the three areas. "Either that, or they're in decline."

Under the new process, developers of selected projects in renaissance opportunity areas can bypass the traditional development route and the property's current zoning by agreeing to take part in a set of planning meetings called a charrette. A project can only move forward if a consensus, defined as at least 80 percent of the community members taking part in the charrette, agree on a development plan.

Last night's council action brings to four the number of renaissance opportunity areas approved by the council since the new process was formalized in December.

So far, no developers have expressed interest in using the legislation in any of the four areas, said Gardina and Councilman Kevin Kamenetz. The other two areas are along Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

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