"I would be more glad if the building wasn't going up over here," she said.

Judy Gratton said she and her husband, Larry, bought their condo in March 2011 in part because of all the trees they can see from their patio.

That wooded property will disappear as the office building is constructed.

A restaurant inside the medical office was the least of her concerns.


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"I wasn't worried about the restaurant," she said. "I'm worried about the signage. I'm worried about how high he's making it."

The $24 million, 89,110-square-foot medical office building is being built on property has been zoned for an office building since 1984.

It is being built as a planned unit development (PUD) which permits development in areas not zoned for it, as long as the proposal includes a superior-quality project with a clear public benefit. The community benefits for the planned project include traffic mitigation, improved walkability in the area and a $50,000 donation from Whalen to Catonsville Rails to Trails.

Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the 1st District, which includes Catonsville, approved the PUD in September. The first-term councilman said he heard concerns from area residents about traffic increasing in their neighborhood once the building was completed.

A full-time restaurant would likely increase that traffic, making it a "non-starter," according to Quirk.

"I'm strongly opposed to a restaurant there, because my primary purpose was to put an office there that would have the least impact to the people of Kenwood," Quirk said.

"Steve Whalen understood our concerns and promptly addressed them," he said.

Construction could start as early as spring 2013 and will last about 15 months, Whalen said.