Neighbors, preservationists and an owner of property at Green Spring Station in Lutherville are challenging a plan for new health and wellness offices at the upscale shopping and office center.
The groups say Baltimore County improperly issued building permits for work at the complex off Falls Road, and they have filed an appeal with the county Board of Appeals.
The developer, Foxleigh Enterprises, wants to remove most of a tennis barn at the Green Spring Racquet Club to make way for a building that would feature medical offices, fitness equipment and rehabilitation services.
"It's a renovation," said Foxleigh principal Tom Peddy. "It's not development."
Those challenging the permits say Foxleigh's plans amount to much more than a renovation. They are the Valleys Planning Council, the Falls Road Community Association, the Meadows of Greenspring Homeowners Association, and Thomas F. Mullan III, who owns other buildings at Green Spring Station.
"It's going to be changed from sort of a pre-fab barn to a three-story office building," said Teresa Moore of the Valleys Planning Council, a land-preservation organization. "It's a major redevelopment."
The groups point to a section of zoning regulations that says no office building can be built or altered unless a hearing officer approves a development plan, which has not happened in this case.
"It's contrary to the law as we see it," said Richard Burch, an attorney for Mullan. "We just don't believe that the permits should have been issued."
A hearing with the Board of Appeals has not yet been scheduled.
After the appeal was filed, the county issued a "stay" on the permits, meaning the developers must file an amended site plan before moving forward, county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said.
Kobler said officials with the permits, approvals and inspections department "did more research and determined that the site plan needs to be amended."
Michael McCann, an attorney representing the Falls Road Community Association and Valleys Planning Council, said Friday lawyers were still reviewing the implications of the stay.
Foxleigh officials said they are working closely with county officials and plan to move forward. They say the proposal will create 350 additional parking spaces, easing a common complaint about scarce parking.
The current tennis buildings, built in the 1970s, should be updated, and the health and wellness facilities proposed would provide a needed service, they said.
The proposal would reduce the building's footprint from 125,000 square feet to 52,000 square feet, according to Foxleigh. Officials with the company said it would not contain retail space, and they contend most people coming for wellness services would not be visiting during rush hour. Foxleigh is negotiating with a tenant but has no plans to begin work until spring 2104, they said.
Tensions over development at Green Spring Station stretch back more than a decade. Michael Friedman, of the Meadows of Greenspring Homeowners Association, said neighbors are still seeking a concrete proposal outlining how much more development Foxleigh plans. The association opposes any high-density development there, he said.
"We still have not reached an understanding with the developers as to what the end plan would be for Green Spring Station," he said.
Foxleigh principal Herb Fredeking said the company has "done our very best to inform them as best we can," but he said the situation is complicated because the firm is one of multiple owners of the overall center.
"We don't have the ability to resolve all the questions at Green Spring Station because we don't own it all," he said.