Marks bill aims to slightly alter downtown Towson zoning

The Baltimore County Council is considering a bill that slightly clarifies the boundaries of the town center district in downtown Towson and clarifies a zoning issue for a new business.

Councilman David Marks, who represents the 5th District including Towson and introduced the bill at Tuesday's council meeting, said Wednesday that Bill 11-13 principally corrects an unintended consequence from last year's Comprehensive Zoning Map Process.

When Marks downzoned the Prospect Hill Cemetery, which sits just north of the Towson City Center building along York Road, to the open-space zoning class DR-1 NC, it jeopardized the town center zoning for Towson City Center.

According to the existing law, the town center district — which comprises most of downtown Towson — cannot abut residentially zoned areas. Though the cemetery's zoning is meant to keep it as open space, it is technically a residential zoning class, Marks said.

The proposed bill allows town center districts to share borders with designated open space, and includes both sides of Olympic Avenue in the town center.

Before the proposed amendments, the councilman said the new Bagby Restaurant Group restaurant planned for Towson City Center, Cunningham's, could not offer sidewalk seating.

"Right now, the setback can only apply to an area that's commercially zoned," Marks said. "You don't want sidewalk dining in an area that borders a residential area. It doesn't matter in an area that borders open space, no one lives there."

The bill will be discussed at a council work session on Tuesday, March 12, and voted on at 6 p.m. Monday, March 18.

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