Catonsville loses when developer granted exemptions from zoning rules

Letter to the editor

September 10, 2012

This is a great nation and I'm proud to be an American. This country affords us numerous freedoms and quality of life. As a good American, I pay my taxes and bills, give to charities and help others who are less fortunate.

My mother, school teachers and those I've come to admire and trust throughout my life have taught me, among other things, to respect others and the value of following rules.

Rules are essential in society to prevent chaos and protect the common people. I follow the rules and expect others to do the same.

I am a resident of Kenwood Gardens in Catonsville and details of the proposed Southwest Physicians Pavilion development next to my community have recently come to my attention.

I am appalled at the number of rules that have been disregarded or broken in order to have Mr. Steve Whalen's project pushed forward by him, the politicians and the government agencies.

Let me make it perfectly clear that this project is not needed or wanted by any of the surrounding communities. There are already a plethora of health offices in the immediate area.

This project will unfavorably affect our residential communities that are already challenged by heavy traffic related to the Western School of Technology and Environmental Science, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus.

Our community has compiled a list of the developer's intentions that are unfavorable to residents based on building laws and restrictions that are currently on the books. How these were ever broached I do not know.

The most offensive of these are:

• The gross building floor area is 89,110 square feet, almost twice the 48,000 square feet maximum allowed for the size of this land.

• Construction of a medical office building (within an Office Residential-1 zone) requires 750 feet distance from residential property line. Mr. Whalen is asking for 60 feet.

• Minimum set back from street line is 60 feet. Mr. Whalen is asking for 4 feet.

• Minimum set back from other property lines is 20 feet. Mr. Whalen is asking for 3 feet.

• The proposed traffic of 3,208 trips per day does not account for substantial school traffic related to Western Tech, UMBC and CCBC.

• The maximum height of the building in OR-1 zoning (class B) is 60 feet. Mr. Whalen proposes a building height of 69 feet. But that 69-foot height is from the top of the existing hill to the underside of the roof structure. But from Kenwood Avenue to the top of the screening on the roof, which includes the elevator runs (an extra one floor height over the top floor) will be 120 feet.

• Real estate signage illumination is not permitted. Mr. Whalen is asking it to be permitted.

• Standard two Dumpster enclosures to be placed a minimum of 10 feet off right-of-ways and residential property lines. Mr. Whalen is asking for 0 feet from property line.

• Enterprise sign maximum is 100 square feet. Mr. Whalen is asking for 135 square feet.

• Enterprise signage of one per building is allowed. Mr. Whalen is asking for four.

• Real estate signage is permitted up to 50 square feet. Mr. Whalen is asking for 350 square feet.

• Real estate signage height permitted is 15 feet. Mr. Whalen is asking for 30 feet.

I am confounded by those who would propose, or approve, any of these for an unnecessary and unwanted project. It goes against the American way of fair play.

It begs the question why should we be expected to follow the rules when others are not held to the same standard?

I do not know what influences Mr. Whalen and our government officials have had in their lives to entertain such foolishness, but I hope they come to their senses and do the right thing.

Mark Stevens

Catonsville

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