After unanimously agreeing to halt plans last month for a Catonsville townhouse development, the Baltimore County Council appears to be changing course, putting the project back in play.
Veteran council members John Olszewski Sr. and Kenneth N. Oliver introduced legislation Monday that would provide strict controls over amending or revoking planned use developments, or PUDs. Their bill would effectively nullify a last-minute resolution that was passed last month to revoke approvals given for Thistle Landing, located on the south side of Frederick Road west of Thistle Road.
It was the first time the council had revoked a PUD. Council members typically do not challenge each others' decisions regarding zoning and development.
"We made a mistake," said Oliver, a Randallstown Democrat. "It should have been brought to the work session and then discussed. So this bill corrects our mistake."
The resolution to stop the development was sponsored by Councilman Tom Quirk, a first-term Catonsville Democrat.
Quirk said the townhouse development would not be a good fit for the 1.45-acre site, which was supported by his predecessor, S.G. Samuel Moxley, and approved by the council last fall. County officials also expressed concern about environmental issues.
Under rules governing PUDs, developers may build more houses than usually allowed by zoning in exchange for some benefit to the community.
Quirk said concerns about this particular project — two four-unit buildings and a duplex — were evident from the beginning and that he reached out to Moxley before the election, requesting that he hold off on taking action.
Waiting until just before the May 2 meeting to inform colleagues about the legislation was designed to remove politics from a "merit-based decision," Quirk said.
"I thought the project was an example of poor planning with no public benefit," Quirk said. "It was a tough decision, but I knew it was the right thing to do."
However, Olszewski, the council chairman, said he believes the proposed legislation restores the "integrity of the process."
"To me, it's not about the PUD — it's about the process," said Olszewski, an Edgemere Democrat.
He and Oliver said they did not have enough time to consider the legal ramifications of Quirk's resolution. Quirk said he was assured by the county attorney that there were no legal problems.
Oliver and Olszewski said they expect their bill to pass next month. Quirk said he plans to introduce amendments to the legislation.