Curtis Bay improvement plans OK'd despite objections

Businesses oppose idea of resident advisory panel

July 01, 2005|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,SUN STAFF

A plan to rejuvenate Brooklyn and Curtis Bay won approval from the city planning department yesterday, but not without fierce objections from area business owners, who oppose the creation of a community advisory panel.

The purpose of the advisory panel is to urge area businesses to establish a closer relationship with local residents. Although the plan is nonbinding and has no regulatory teeth, business leaders objected to the small portion that called for the advisory panel. They said its language is unclear and could result in an additional layer of oversight.

"If you let that kind of language and/or you impose community advisory panels on industry without industry knowing what that is, future businesses who want to locate in Curtis Bay, who want to expand in Curtis Bay, we believe will not," said Carolyn Burridge, a lobbyist for the South Baltimore Business Alliance.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Friday's editions of The Sun about a plan for improvements in Curtis Bay and Brooklyn misspelled the last name of Jerome Chou, the author of the plan.
The Sun regrets the error.

Neighbors and members of the planning commission scoffed at the notion.

"If there's a business that doesn't want to come in because they're scared because they're doing bad stuff, we don't want them there," said Javier G. Bustamante, one of the commission's citizen representatives.

The plan approved by the commission calls for new housing and better use of open and recreational spaces. It includes planting more trees, constructing new sidewalks and repainting a bridge.

The uneasiness on the part of the business owners was reflective of concerns in the heavily industrial area in the city's southernmost tip.

Business owners say they fear they'll be pushed out by an influx of housing and commercial development similar to Canton or Locust Point.

The plan for Curtis Bay and Brooklyn includes "buffer zones" to provide distance between factories and non-industrial development, separate roadways for trucks and notices that residents are entering an industrial area.

"We recognize that planning that happens on the commercial corridor impacts things outside those boundaries," said the plan's author, Jerome Chow. "We need to be working on these ideas to make sure that industry and commercial and residential uses can continue to coexist."

Community leaders and residents praised the plan.

"This plan gives our community a united vision, with things to work on immediately and things to work on in the future," said Richard Anderson, president of the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition.

Linda Bardo, president of the Curtis Bay Association, hailed it as "what we've needed for a long time."

Sixteen-year-old Michael Blue, who attends the Chesapeake Center for Youth Development, told the commission how important the plan could be for teens his age who would help to fix up the neighborhood. The center offers counseling, educational and vocational training for troubled youth.

"At the Chesapeake Center, I've got something to do that can keep my mind off the street. I can make something of myself. I can go to college," Blue said. "If we can fix [the area's problems], maybe other teens will have something to do other than run in the streets. They can enjoy themselves without worrying if they're going to get shot."

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