The staff has sided against a further request for office building zoning along Bosley that was made by Robert E. Latshaw, a longtime Towson commercial real estate broker who was on the Planning Board when he made the requests but has since left the 15-member panel.

The planning office also recommended against three requests that would expand the core business-commercial district zoning 18 percent, from more than 198 acres to nearly 234 acres in chunks of land to the south, east and north, including the "Golden Triangle" that hosts the American Legion Post. Latshaw made those requests as well.

Latshaw said the changes would make the central business district "more inviting" for potential redevelopment. The new zoning would allow taller buildings, a wider mix of uses in some spots and more restrictions on others. The exact effect would depend on the piece of land.

The proposals include two more sections where business and town center zoning would be expanded. One, several blocks to the north of the triangle, is a stretch along York Road between the traffic circle and Bosley, where there's now a Honda service center, the Towson Promenade apartments, an office building and a strip of businesses. South of there, a couple of blocks east of Virginia Avenue that are now lined with homes and small office buildings would be made part of the business-town center zone.

Latshaw said he was focused on making it easier to build apartment buildings near the business core, saying, "We need desperately people within walking distance of the heart of Towson."

A committee named by Marks months ago has been working to figure out what to do with the "Golden Triangle" with or without the zoning changes.

The wedge-shaped bowl of land has a few stands of trees and a stream running through the south side. Driving by, you wouldn't even see the Legion hall, which stands inside the bowl, but you'd see the businesses along the rim: the Towson University Marriott Conference Hotel, a Starbucks, a string of small restaurants, a dry cleaner, Dunkin' Donuts and Jiffy Lube.

If it doesn't look like much, it is considered a significant bridge between Towson University and the business core. A 2012 report by the county's Department of Economic Development included the Triangle as one of nine strategic "business investment areas" that could be "developed as signature mixed use project"

Rebbert doesn't like the sound of that. He fears the county Revenue Authority's power to take land for economic development. The Legion's executive committee has voted several times to reject developers' offers to buy the property. According to state land records, the projected July 2012 assessed value of its 4.6 acres is $2.93 million.

Rebbert said the Legion has been there since the late 1940s and plans to stay, especially since it generates about 90 percent of its revenue by leasing its parking lot and banquet rooms. The Towson post has to stay in Towson, he said, and he doesn't know where else in the area the Legion could find a comparable piece of land.

"To me this is a fantastic use of the land," he said, standing on a slope overlooking the hall, the parking lot and the ball field next to it. "We enjoy it here, we're part of the community. We're part of the history. This is where we want to be. It comes down to that."

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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