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Arbutus Arts Festival, Catonsville businesses recognized for commercial revitalization

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Three Catonsville area business owners and volunteers with the Arbutus Arts Festival were among the winners Wednesday night at an award ceremony held in Pikesville for businesses and individuals who have contributed to the county's Commercial Revitalization Districts (CRDs).

The ceremony recognized 39 businesses located in 16 of the county's revitalization districts that are described by Baltimore County as, "the front doors of our desired established communities."

"Baltimore County's traditional commercial districts have long been the foundation for the quality of life we enjoy here in Baltimore County, " Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in a statement. "We especially value the small, locally owned businesses that strengthen communities by providing jobs, services, resources and shopping, dining and entertainment options."

Chambers of commerce and business associations were invited by the county's Department of Planning to make nominations in 11 categories, according to county information.

Owners of three Catonsville businesses, Lee and Tammy Lightner, Scott Westcoat and Sally Grace were among business owners honored, while the Arbutus Arts Festival was one of two groups to be named Best Community Event.

The Lightners, owners of ABC Equipment Rental on Geipe Road, won in the Best Established Business category as an outstanding longtime business that has contributed to the Commercial Revitalization District for more than 20 years.

Westcoat, who owns HUB/C'Ville Bikes won for Best Service/Retailer and Grace, the owner of Peace a Pizza, won for Best Young Entrepreneur.

"I think that people in this community would rather support a local business than a big chain," Westcoat said. "We're very humbled to be recognized."

"I think that we've done the best we possibly can to become integrated into the community. We've tried to integrate through existing programs out there such at the Catonsville Parks and Recreation programs and we've tried to support local nonprofits," Westcoat said before awards were announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The three Catonsville area businesses were among the nine winners recognized at Wednesday night's event.

"Catonsville is a great revitalization district — they have got some great businesses there," said Andrea Van Arsdale, director of the county's planning department.

Sue Miller, committee chairwoman of the Arbutus Arts Festival, was at the ceremony with 19 other committee members to accept the award for Best Community Event, which they shared with Feet on the Street of Towson.

"There are a group of us that have been doing this event for 25 to 35 years," Miller said. "To get this recognition was great."

"I think it's great that Catonsville won a lot of the awards and I'm excited to see Arbutus businesses win some next year," said Miller, an Arbutus native, who lives in Catonsville. "It would be great to see more Arbutus businesses nominated — Arbutus is changing and it will interesting to see up-and-coming businesses."

The Historic Dundalk Holiday Hoopla, the 50th anniversary of the Desegregation of Gwynn Oak Park and Overlea Community Association were also nominated for the award.

Dan and Maude Swearingen of Catonsville were nominated in the Outstanding Volunteer category, along with Dan "The Planter Man" Kicklighter of Dundalk and Pikesville residents David Elkes, Nick Mangione and Mark Pressman. The Woodstock Jobs Center on Liberty Road was named winner.

Other awards and nominations are:

• In the Best Service/Retailer category won by HUB/C'Ville Bikes of Catonsville, nominees were Maaco Auto Body Shop and Meineke Car Care Center of Liberty Road, Bay Country Rentals of Reisterstown and State Farm Insurance of Woodlawn.

• Winner of the Best Before and After was Perry Hall Animal Hospital. Nominees included: Umami Global Bistro of Catonsville, The New Golden Dragon Restaurant and Lounge/Benny Der's Golden Dragon Inn on Liberty Road, Klein Enterprises of Pikesville, Rec Room of Towson, Towson Tavern and Torrent Nightclub of Towson.

• Winner of the Best New Business category was Little Crystal Bijoux of Dundalk. Other nominees were: Just the Occasion in Reisterstown and La Cakerie of Towson.

• In the Outstanding Young Entrepreneur category won by Sally Grace, the other nominees were: Jennifer Cook, owner of Full Stride Wellness in Reisterstown, and Tim Bojanowski and Ali Lemon, owners of Zest Social Media Solutions LLC in Towson.

• In the Best Established Business category won by ABC Equipment Rental of Catonsville, Avara's Academy of Hair Design in Dundalk, J.S. Edwards of Pikesville and Bransfield Motor Company in Reisterstown were nominated.

• The Best Window Display award was given to Wear It's At of Reisterstown, and Plaza Artist Materials of Towson and Urban Outfitters in Towson were both nominated.

• The Best Neighborhood Restaurant award went to Mari Luna Mexican and Mari Luna Latin Grille in Pikesville. Java Mammas and the Grill at Harryman House, both of Reisterstown, were nominated.

• The Special Development Project award went to Palisades of Towson, while Former Suburban House Site and Schwaber Management of Pikesville were nominated.

• The Community Institution category recognized a nonprofit that has made a positive impact or implemented innovate solutions. The winner was Reisterstown United Methodist Church and Pastor Vivian McCarthy. The Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Randallstown Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library on Liberty Road were nominated.

The Commercial Revitalization program offers four resources to businesses within the designated districts:

• Architect On Call offers up to 10 free hours of professional architectural design services to businesses for improving the exteriors of their buildings. The service is free when improvements are certified as complete within six months, according to county information.

• Building Improvement Loan Program (BILP) offers $30,000 interest-free loans that may be used for exterior improvements such as awnings, landscaping and signage, and can be combined with other economic development incentives for larger projects, the county said.

• Commercial Revitalization Tax Credit offers five-year real property tax credit, jointly administered by the Baltimore County Department of Planning and the Department of Assessments and Taxation, provided the physical improvements increase the assessed property value by $100,000 or more, the county said. A 10-year credit is available if improvement costs exceed $10 million.

• Commercial Revitalization Action Gran awards $10,000 grant annually to business associations for projects that benefit the overall revitalization district.

Van Arsdale said the planning department has seen a greater number of residents requesting the Architect on Call program, which is what most fledgling businesses use to get started.

"We're hopeful that this is a harbinger of change that businesses will continue to establish themselves in the county," Arsdale said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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