Residents of Towson’s Southland Hills community gave a mixed assessment Tuesday of plans to turn the historic Bosley Mansion in the heart of their neighborhood into luxury condominiums.
The mansion, built more than 150 years ago, sits at the center of a complex that for generations served as the Presbyterian Home of Maryland until it closed in 2016.
The assisted living center is proposing to sell the property to developers who plan to convert it to 45 condominiums to be called Bosley Estates.
Georgia Chantiles-Ruby, who lives across the street from the mansion, told members of the Baltimore County Council that the renovations would result in an “out-of-character housing product” that wouldn’t fit with the historic homes in the neighborhood.
Others raised concerns that the project would bring an influx of traffic to narrow neighborhood streets, exacerbate parking problems and alter the views from residents’ homes.
Some residents, however, praised the reuse of the historic building as an attractive idea. They praised the developers for agreeing to preserve a broad, sloping lawn that has served as an unofficial community park.
Jim Tomney, who lives down the street, said the developers have been responsive to community concerns, and if the Bosley Estates plan falls through, the neighborhood could be left with a vacant building.
“I’m nostalgic, too. I’m so sorry the Presbyterian Home had to close … but we need to be realistic. This plan deserves to go forward,” he said.
County council members are considering approval of a resolution that would allow the Bosley Estates project to move into the county’s planned-unit development process.
That process grants developers flexibility in zoning requirements in exchange for building a project with benefits to the community. In the case of Bosley Estates, developers Marty Azola and Delbert Adams need permission to build more homes than the 28 units that would be allowed under the existing zoning.
If the council approves the resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, the planned-unit development process would move forward with an additional community input meeting and reviews by county agencies.
Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson, praised the project and urged his colleagues to support the resolution. Council members generally defer to the wishes of other council members when it comes to planning and zoning decisions in their districts — a practice known as councilmanic courtesy.
A few opponents of the project suggested that developers should be allowed to tear down the mansion in order to free them up to consider other types of projects. But Marks said that’s not an option, given the building’s historic significance not only to Southland Hills but to the greater Towson community.
The Bosley Mansion was built by one of the early prominent families in Towson, who donated land for the county courthouse and county jail.
“Demolishing that structure would be an absolute blow to historic preservation,” Marks said.
Council members are scheduled to vote on Marks’ resolution at their meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Historic Courthouse, 400 Washington Ave. in Towson.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong date for the next County Council meeting. It has been corrected here.