Marks says he'll withdraw effort to create Towson office overlay district

Fifth District Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said Tuesday, July 3, that he will not go forward with a bill that would have created a new zoning overlay district in West Towson.

"What I was trying to do was explore the idea of a new zoning classification to build in some protection on the west side of Bosley Avenue, but also accommodate some of the zoning requests," said Marks, who represents Towson.

"In some initial discussions I had with community leaders, they seem to indicate they have not supported them, so I decided not to move forward with it," he said.

Marks said he had viewed the bill — which was introduced at the Monday, July 2, County Council meeting — as a compromise on a frequently raised issue in the county's quadrennial Comprehensive Zoning Map Process.

Currently, several properties on the west side of the 300 block of Bosley Avenue are zoned for residential offices, which residents say provide for a smooth transition from the downtown Towson business district to the residential West Towson neighborhoods.

As part of the CZMP process, the Towson law firm of Brooks & Kosloski, which has its office on Bosley, requested that several of the properties be changed to the OR-2 zone — which would allow for office buildings and residential development up to 10.5 units per acre, as well as restaurants, banks, and conference facilities related to the buildings' primary use.

According to the text of the bill, the overlay district would have put restrictions on what would typically be allowed under OR-2. The bill would have prohibited banks, drug stores, restaurants, neighborhood car rental agencies, and wireless communication towers and antennas.

Marks said similar requests along Bosley have been submitted each CZMP process for the last two decades.

He said he was exploring a proposal to accommodate both the neighborhood's wishes and the zoning requests, but he had introduce the measure this past Monday and get it voted upon at the Aug. 6 council meeting in order for it to be in place when the CZMP package is passed on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

"I was trying to find some sort of compromise that would allow the changes to move forward, but in a way that protected the community," Marks said. "It's just not proceeding."

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