Pot Spring developer must scale back housing plan

Councilman will not support effort to exceed zoning density

May 26, 2011|By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

Dozens of Timonium-area residents got welcome news Wednesday night as Baltimore County Councilman Todd Huff announced that he would not support a developer's plan for 33 houses on Pot Spring Road.

"I did hear what you said," Huff told the gathering of more than 100 people at Warren Elementary School in Cockeysville. "I agree with you 100 percent."

The announcement was greeted with applause in a gathering that took place four months after more than 200 people met in an often raucous session in the same room, most of them opposed to Catonsville developer Jeffrey C. Kirby's plan to build a gated cluster of 33 homes for people 55 years and older on 10 acres. Kirby had planned to pursue the project under rules governing so-called planned unit developments, or PUDs, a process that allows the developer to build more houses than the zoning allows in exchange for some benefit to the community.

Opponents, led by the organization SavePotSpring.Org, said the project was not suited to the neighborhood of single-family homes, had too little visitor parking and would create too much traffic.

Because a PUD cannot be considered for county review until it is submitted by a council member for approval, Kirby will have to scale his plans down to fit the existing zoning on that land at Pot Spring and Old Bosley roads. That would allow Kirby to build no more than 13 single-family homes.

Huff, who is in his first term representing the 3rd District, had drafted a PUD resolution for the seven-member council's vote, but postponed action on it after the community meeting in January. He said after the 30-minute meeting that he reached his decision about two weeks ago, then called for this meeting.

Members of SavePotSpring.Org said they were happy with the outcome.

"We thank Councilman Huff for his work on this," Paul Apostolo, one of five members of the organization's central working committee, told the group. "We're very pleased he made this announcement."

Apostolo said after the meeting that he had considered this "to be the most likely outcome," especially in light of assurances Huff gave him and other members of the committee in a meeting last month.

Former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, also a committee member, said, "I don't think he [Huff] could have gone any other way, with the strong feelings of the community."

Voters in the largely rural 3rd District tend to back land preservation, and Huff, who defeated longtime Councilman T. Bryan McIntire in the Republican primary last year, made clear his stand on that key concern.

"I'm not a friend to the developers," Huff told the group. "I'm here for the communities. I'm not in the pockets of anybody."

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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