Towson coffee shop controversy brings about a new planning advisory committee

Controversy over a coffee shop has led to creation of a new advisory committee to discuss future development in south Towson.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks on Wednesday announced the names of five Towson residents, including four architects, he has tapped to recommend design guidelines that new development must meet for the area along York Road from Stevenson Lane to the Baltimore City line.

Neighbors unsuccessfully objected to the construction of a drive-through Starbucks at the corner of York Road and Regester Avenue and rallied to stop the project, which they said would create pedestrian and traffic woes.

"(The Starbucks) was already moving through the permit process in a point where I could not do very much," said Marks, a Republican whose district includes Towson. "I told the community I thought we needed to move forward so that future projects have an extra set of eyes."

Marks said the mix of single-family homes and commercial businesses, surrounded by an ice cream shop, a church and a hardware store, is pedestrian-friendly and he worries development might infringe on that access.

The advisory committee will give residents a voice in planning at an earlier stage, said Marks, who plans to submit legislation by the end of summer to place the committee under the county's Design Review Panel.

"One thing residents enjoy is the quality of the mix in commercial and businesses within walking distance of their homes," said Scott McGovern, an architect and former president of the Anneslie Community Association, who will be the committee chairman. "It's important to us that the area is maintained in a way that respects the existing character of the area."

Other committee members include Emily Sales, an architect from Anneslie; Caitlin O'Hara, a planner from Stoneleigh; Warren Timlen, a landscape architect from Anneslie; and Dan DeRosa, a landscape architect from Rodgers Forge.

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