"You don't see us there, need I say more?" Rebbert said.
The county is considering several changes this year that would extend the boundaries of downtown Towson, including one that would allow more intense development on the 14-acre triangular expanse where the Legion post stands just south of Towson Circle. Landowners and a former planner have proposed the changes and have met opposition from neighbors and businesses, who question the need for expansion while parts of downtown languish.
Other proposals would allow taller office buildings and cell phone towers just across the western border of the business district on Bosley Avenue — drawing residents of West Towson into the debate about where the line should be drawn.
"I guess the question is, where does Towson grow from here?" said Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents the area. Marks — who would effectively have the final say on the proposed alterations — has not stated a position on the changes.
The council is not scheduled to vote on the requested changes until September — after members have heard from the public, the Planning Board and the Office of Planning staff. It's all part of the process of redrawing the county's zoning map, which has taken place every four years since the mid-1970s.
The Planning Board already has heard from Rebbert; it has also heard from West Towson residents on other requests that would allow more extensive development outside the business district's current boundaries.
"This is what drives me crazy," said Michael P. Ertel, of the West Towson Neighborhood Association, in an interview. "We have this core that's pretty mediocre. We could do a lot of development there. But we're always looking to go somewhere else."
Ertel opposes proposals that would expand the business area and allow taller office buildings, cell towers and other structures on the west side of Bosley Avenue. He and Richard Parsons, who served three terms as president of the neighborhood association, say the zone allowing offices in residential buildings west of Bosley has served well as a buffer to the business core and should stay as it is.
In emails to the district community planner, Ertel and Parsons argued that the people making the zoning requests — six landowners and a former Planning Board member who is a commercial real estate broker — are just trying to increase land values.
"Guaranteeing a real estate investor a profit on his investment at the expense of residential communities is not the hallmark of responsible planning," Parsons said.
The landowners, including former state Sen. F. Vernon Boozer, Charles E. Brooks and Edward Covahey — all of whom have law practices in converted single-family homes on the west side of Bosley Avenue — have asked before for such changes and been denied.
Brooks said he doesn't understand the opposition. From the front window of his office in the 600 block of Bosley, he said he looks out at a "six-lane highway" that hardly qualifies as a quiet residential street.
Besides, he said, the residential buildings already stand a stone's throw from more imposing structures.
In a letter to county planners, Brooks, Boozer and Covahey refer to the "fortress-like compound" that used to be a school and now serves as the Bykota Senior Center.
That three-story brick building — taller than the residences housing law offices — stands behind their land, next to another brick building about the same height that houses the Baltimore County Office of Human Resources. Just west of those county buildings lies a neighborhood park with a ball field and playground, which the three men argue would screen the residential area from anything they would build on their properties.
The zoning change "would have no impact on West Towson whatsoever," Brooks said in an interview.
In their preliminary recommendations, the Office of Planning staff already has sided against Brooks and his co-petitioners on their requests, which would affect just over seven acres. The staff recommended against similar requests in 2008.