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Letter: Develop areas in Catonsville near major thoroughfares and preserve open space

I attended the community input meeting for Whalen Properties' proposed Planned Unit Development on Kenwood Avenue.

People need to know that, overwhelmingly, the community opposes this project.

Interesting facts came to light at the meeting.

The first regarded the proposed traffic signal at Kenwood and Wilkens avenues, considered by the developer as a quarter million dollar community benefit.

I brought a letter from the State Highway Administration, stating that, in the past five years, only one traffic study request was made and the SHA concluded no traffic signal was needed.

If the community isn't clamoring for a light and the SHA says one isn't needed, why is this being considered a community benefit?

Someone asked about vacancy rates in the area.

I shared data showing a vacancy exposure of 225,140 square feet for space appropriate for medical offices in the surrounding area.

The president of the Arbutus Improvement Association asked how this PUD will help her community, already struggling with vacancies, as it will create empty space in a commercial building on Benson Avenue.

The big question remains. Is it "Smart Growth" to build something that isn't needed?

For those of you wishing for a Christmas miracle, let me you give you one. I agree with Steve Whalen.

For better or worse, it appears our leaders through Baltimore County's Master Plan 2020 and the state's new PlanMaryland have decided to increase population density in our area.

As we move closer to this reality, every square foot of potential open space becomes all the more valuable, especially true given our area's shortage of open space, according to county guidelines.

With Smart Growth as a goal, politicians are willing to curtail property rights of rural landowners.

Perhaps they should consider implications to communities, such as ours, and do the same for urban landowners.

My Christmas wish this year?

Give our leaders the courage to stand up to the development community and foster a new model, where developers need to work together to redevelop ailing areas that adjoin transportation hubs like Security Square Mall, Route 40, and Route 1, instead of the current model's insistence to build on every square inch of potential open space.

Paul Dongarra

Catonsville

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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