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Final hearing for Catonsville Y expansion plans

Highway and Road TransportationLocal GovernmentClubs and AssociationsYMCAFitness

The final hearing on the construction of a 140-unit senior residence facility along with the further expansion of the Catonsville Y on South Rolling Road is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8, in Towson.

At this time, area residents can address county officials about their concerns and hear about changes to the project since a July 12 meeting on the proposed expansion.

This week's hearing to decide whether to approve the project's Planned Unit Development will be held at 10 a.m. in Room 205 of the Jefferson Building, 105 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Towson.

The final proposal, with revisions made in response to comments at past meetings, will be presented during the session. Other engineering and architectural plans will need further county approval before construction can begin.

Representatives of neighboring homeowner associations have been invited to take part in this week's meeting.

Barring any delays, construction on the new Brightview project could begin in June 2013, according to Andrew Teeters, senior development director for the Shelter Group that plans to build a Brightview Senior Living development on 5 acres of the YMCA site.

The new community will have 75 independent living apartments, including studio and one- and two-bedroom units, according to Teeters.

It will also have a fitness area, although a partnership with the neighboring Y will provide its residents with access to the Y's programs and facilities, Teeters said.

"There's an incredible demand for independent living in Catonsville," Teeters said.

The project will include a dining room, cafe and pub for residents, as well as a library, computer center and multi-purpose rooms.

Some 90 parking spaces are also planned, mostly for staff and visitors although some independent residents are expected to bring their cars.

The Shelter Group, a Baltimore-based company, operates 25 senior housing communities in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including the 90-unit assisted living and Alzheimer's care facility less than half a mile away on Rolling Road.

"It's a win-win for the Y, Brightview and the community," said Tom Sullivan, vice president of the Foxhall Manor homeowners association, who plans to attend the meeting.

Sullivan said the group has not met on the subject and his opinion is based on informal conversations in the neighborhood.

Concerns about traffice have been raised, but that's a common concernt in the community, he said.

Dennis Keihm, president of the College Hills III 44-member homeowners association, said he plans to represent his neighbors at the meeting, though without an official message.

"We haven't taken a position as a homeowners association one way or the other," he said.

But, Keihm noted, the community's experience with Brightview has been positive. Brightview representatives have met with community associations to discuss things such as line-of-sight issues and landscaping plans.

They took the same kind of interest in the surrounding neighbors when Brightview Catonsville was built next to St. John's United Church of Christ, according to Keihm.

"They have proven themselves to be good to work with," he said.

The only concern he's heard raised is the size of the new development.

About two dozen people attended a community meeting on the project in July at the Arbutus Library. At the meeting, after residents raised concerns about increased traffic, Teeters presented changes to South Rolling Road to ease possible traffic congestion. These include a new left-turn lane heading north on Rolling and a deceleration lane off the southbound lane to ease access to the YMCA/Brightview campus.

The YMCA, which has operated at the site for about 50 years, has already completed Phase I of three steps toward redevelopment of the Catonsville facility. The 4,300-foot expansion included a new fitness floor, enlarged play area for children and improvements to the pool.

Construction of the YMCA's second phase is expected to begin in June, said Eugene Oaksmith, vice president of strategic development for the Y of Central Maryland.

The next phase will enlarge the fitness room and add a new lobby and multipurpose room.

A third phase is dependent on the success of the group's fundraising efforts. It will enlarge the lobby, add a second multi-purpose room as well as a family fitness center.

"We need to expand," Oaksmith said, noting that the demand for programs had been rising.

The first phase of expansion took care of the needs for current members — about 3,500 to 4,000 members. Further expansion, it is hoped, will draw new members.

"We need to expand," said Oaksmith, adding that the demand for programs has been rising.

In February 2012, the Baltimore County Council approved a resolution for the Planned Unit Development on the 20-acre YMCA site, introduced by Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the 1st District, which includes Catonsville.

A PUD resolution was proposed because the site's underlying zoning didn't provide the flexibility necessary for the project, according to Quirk.

The site is zoned for residential use and to allow for a maximum of two units per acre.

Plans for the expansion are detailed on the YMCA's website at http://catonsvilleydev.ymaryland.org/.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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