For years, Bonnie Brumwell Hoyas and her three brothers have been trying to persuade Anne Arundel County officials to allow them to redevelop their family land, which houses several family businesses — including a large flea market — along busy Mountain Road in Pasadena.
The land known as the "Brumwell property" is well-suited for a big-box retailer, the family says, arguing that area residents would benefit from having stores such as Target, Wal-Mart or Lowe's nearby instead of having to travel to Glen Burnie or Annapolis. County officials disagree, citing concerns about traffic and limited infrastructure.
Hoyas, who this year is making a third try to get zoning permission, said an alternate plan would have senior condos and smaller-scale retail at the site if the bid fails. In any case, she says, the family is selling the land.
"Here's our opportunity to give Pasadena something they don't have," said Hoyas, 54. "But if Pasadena doesn't want it, so be it. If they turn us down, we'll just do the condos, retail and restaurant."
Anne Arundel County planners, who are in the beginning stages of the most recent round of rezoning in the Pasadena area, say the land should stay with its current zoning designation. Hoyas says she hasn't given up, and hopes to lobby her local county councilman.
Though the administration of County Executive John R. Leopold opposes the zoning change, Councilman Derek Fink has the ability to revive the issue by adding it as an amendment to the pending bill for rezoning the sprawling Pasadena area. In a recent interview, Fink, a Republican who represents Pasadena, said he was concerned about traffic issues near the site but was open to hearing from the community.
"I'm not inclined to support it, but I'm keeping an open mind," he said. "Traffic is a major concern of constituents. This will significantly increase traffic."
Residents appear divided on the plans. While some have expressed an eagerness for new amenities, others say further development at the site would worsen an already bad traffic problem. A recent informational meeting about plans for the site drew hundreds of people, attendees said.
Amy Fox, a resident of the Pasadena community of Orchard Beach, said she now avoids narrow Mountain Road on weekends when the flea market is operating because the roadway become so congested.
"The traffic is going to be a nightmare," said Fox, who works as a tax processor at an accounting firm. "And the small businesses that are around there, any kind of a big store is going to wipe them out."
The 20-acre site is designated for or low-level commercial development. Under that zoning, a developer could build up to 300 senior citizen condominiums, with accompanying small-scale retail and restaurants. Hoyas says she's in talks with a developer to go forward with that plan.
But she says she prefers C3 zoning, which would allow for a big-box retailer, because she thinks it provides better options to serve a greater portion of the community.
The property now is home to a variety of family businesses, including Brumwell's Instant Heat and Air, specializing in HVAC installation; Brumwell's Rock Shop, which sells gravel and mulch for landscaping; and Royal Can, a Dumpster rental business. Hoyas' father, who operated the site, died in 2008. Running the site with her siblings "just makes things complicated," she said.
"It doesn't matter to us financially if we do either option — the money's the same for us," she said. "Some people don't want anything. … Well, that's not an option."