Otis Rolley, a spokesman for the Committee for Zoning Transparency — which he said is connected to the Committee for Zoning Integrity, but focused only on Almond's district — said a referendum would give the community a voice.

"You can't say that you speak for the community ... and then oppose the referendum," said Rolley, a former Baltimore mayoral candidate.

Rolley said the committee's backers include businesses at the Garrison Forrest Shopping Center.

Brian Gibbons, the developer of Foundry Row, has hired the firm Petition Partners to distribute fliers urging people to "think twice" before signing the petition, as well as newspaper articles on the referendum drive.

Gibbons said signature gatherers have lied by telling people that signing the petition would let citizens elect members of the county school board, which is now appointed, among other claims.

In a statement Monday, National Ballot Access accused the workers hired by Gibbons' firm of threatening and intimidating signature gatherers.

Gibbons called that "nonsense."

"Our goal is to let people know what's really going on," Gibbons said. "We have a right to hand out the information."