Mixed response to PUD action

 

John Murphy, a Catonsville resident who supported Rebecca Dongarra in the Democratic primary instead of Quirk, said he has been impressed with what Quirk has done, especially regarding the PUD approval process.

"I think it restored balance to a process that obviously had a lot of problems before that," said Murphy, noting that he particularly supported the motion to make rebuilding in revitalization areas a public benefit.


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"He has a very balanced view," Murphy said. "He's trying to make a judgment not so much on the emotions, but on the merits of the case."

Catonsville resident Natalia Leimkuhler, also a Dongarra supporter,

said she would prefer to see development in areas that already have commerce.

"I am not anti-development," Leimkuhler said, noting that development creates jobs. "But it's up to our government, I think, to make sure that development is sensible and doesn't destroy our environment."

 

Goals for 2012

 

In addition to the ongoing efforts battling crime, providing fiscal sustainability, making communities more walkable and revitalizing the neighborhoods inside Interstate 695, land use issues will again dominate Quirk's agenda in 2012.

"Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, whoever. All I care is, can we work together and help the community?" he said. "That's the only reason that I ran, was to truly try to give back to the area."

Quirk said he has begun working on the Urban Conservation Zone, which would ensure that property acquired through NeighborSpace of Baltimore County is zoned for open space.

"I want to make sure that our zoning really reflects what the land is," Quirk said.

Quirk cautioned that this process is still under way.

"Not every acre of property inside the URDL should be zoned for development. We need to find that balance," Quirk said. "For smart growth to truly work, we need to do a better job of trying to balance open space and pocket parks with development."

In the coming months, Quirk hopes to see significant progress in acquiring the 10 acres of land at the end of Maple Avenue in Catonsville from the city.

Quirk said he hopes to preserve that area as open space.

Another space issue that may rear its head in 2012 is the Promenade, a project envisioned by developer Steve Whalen that would use land now part of the Spring Grove Hospital Center campus to create more than 1.4 million square feet area of retail, hotel, office, recreation and living space.

Opponents have argued the space would undermine Catonsville and Arbutus main streets that are filled with retail stores and restaurants.

Quirk said on Dec. 22 that a study commissioned by the state should come out in the next few weeks.

"At some point, there will be county input, but right now it's still on the state's side," Quirk said.

Before making a decision on the Promenade, Quirk said he would need to see the state's study showing the amount of surplus land available.

"One thing I've been pushing is making sure that we have good recreational space," Quirk said. "So, we'll see."

Quirk hopes the county sees dramatic changes before his term ends three years from now in terms of growth and development.

"What I would love to see before the end of my first term (is for) significant revitalization to continue and our properties are stable if not increasing, our quality of life is strong," Quirk said.