By Jon Meoli, firstname.lastname@example.org
8:54 AM EDT, October 15, 2013
101 York, a student apartment complex proposed for the Towson Triangle parcel near Towson University, is being billed by Baltimore County officials and the developer, DMS Development, as a project that will draw Towson students out of residential neighborhoods and closer to campus.
Yet with a design that only provides a little more than half as many parking spaces as the numbers of beds for residents at 101 York, community leaders are wondering where students will park their cars.
"There's just not enough parking," said Paul Hartman, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations.
An application for the planned unit development was filed with Councilman David Marks on Monday, Oct. 7. Under Baltimore County's PUD laws, increasing a property's zoning designation is allowed, provided there is a demonstrated need as well as a benefit to the community.
The $60 million 101 York project was announced in April at a press conference with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. The Towson Triangle, on York Road just north of Burke Avenue, is one some Towson residents consider underdeveloped.
The initial plan was announced in generalities — around 500 beds in 200 apartment units, with around 300 parking spaces for the residents — but the PUD application outlines several specific figures. The "dormitory" will include 571 beds and 367 on-site parking spaces. The project also calls for around 10,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space.
David Schlachman, principal at DMS Development, declined to comment for this story, saying he wanted to communicate directly to community leaders before speaking publicly.
After the first design was presented, officials with the American Legion Towson Post #22, whose property abuts the project site, raised environmental concerns regarding the Towson Run stream, which runs through the Triangle parcel. In the revised plan, Marks said DMS has reduced the footprint of the building, but the height of the building has increased.
Community leaders say their main concern is the development's lack of adequate parking, Marks said.
Hartman said residents in the nearby communities, such as Burkleigh Square, Knollwood-Donnybrook and Aigburth Manor, have experience with existing student-filled residences that lack onsite parking. He said students will find other places to park nearby.
"It just seems more and more students these days have cars; that's a fact," Hartman said. "It's not like we're guessing what might be; we have concrete evidence of this with the Cardiff (Hall) overflow and Donnybrook Apartment just added a parking lot" because of a lack of parking spaces.
In a letter to DMS sent in mid-June, the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations called the parking "woefully inadequate," and Hartman said he would still like to discuss the issue with them.
Hartman and Marks both said the developers were working on an agreement for additional resident parking at Baltimore County Revenue Authority garages, the nearest of which are on West Susquehanna Avenue and East Towsontown Boulevard.
DMS' PUD application also outlines its community benefit package.
According to the application, DMS will donate $40,000 to the Towson High School Sports Booster Club; $10,000 for landscaping at the Southland Hills mini-park; and $5,000 for sidewalk improvements along Burke Avenue and near the Burkleigh Square community park.
The developers also note in the application that per the PUD guidelines, "the use of higher quality architectural design and higher quality building materials … will enhance the development for its residents and the community as a whole."
Under recent amendments to the PUD process, the community input meeting and feasibility reports from county agencies are required before a proposal is submitted as a bill and then voted on by the County Council.
A community input meeting is required within 30 days of the PUD application, and one is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the Towson University Marriott. Marks said he will not make a decision on the current proposal until after the meeting and reports are completed.
"There are a lot of things to consider, and I do talk to residents in the community who believe it is urgent and important to try to get housing closer to Towson University," Marks said.
"I do respect the other viewpoint, which says that the housing should be, ideally, on campus, but my job in this is to read the minutes from the community input meeting and also the report from the county agencies, and that's what I'm going to do."