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Marks says he won't support zoning change for Towson Triangle

Proposal had been sought as part of CZMP; Legion, Greater Towson Council opposed it

By Jon Meoli, jmeoli@tribune.com

1:37 PM EDT, August 13, 2012

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Fifth District Councilman David Marks said Monday he will support no zoning changes for the Towson Triangle as part of the county's ongoing Comprehensive Zoning Map Process.

The Triangle, made up of the area between York Road, West Burke Avenue and West Towsontown Boulevard, is home to several businesses, as well as the Towson American Legion Post 22.

The CZMP process, which occurs every four years, allows citizens, county officials, land owners and developers to propose zoning changes throughout the county.

During the current review, former Planning Board member Robert Latshaw proposed that the property, along with others in and around the downtown Towson core, be rezoned as BM-CT, a designation that allows large-scale commercial development in town centers.

The Planning Board, however, recommended that the property remain a mix of BM and RAE-2, which allows for businesses and high-density apartments.

Marks said in a statement that he's "very supportive" of redeveloping the triangle, which is subject of a committee he formed and charged with plotting out the property's future. But he said he wanted development to be considered under the current zoning.

"Further growth should be done through a planned unit development, in which there are tough standards, broad public input, and a community benefit package," Marks said. "If this zoning is approved, a developer could build there by right, with none of those protections for the community."

During public hearings and other meetings, members of the American Legion spoke out against the zoning change. Post Commander Jim Rebbert said the American legion has no intentions of leaving the property, and members were concerned that a zoning change would force the post out to make way for commercial redevelopment.

"We agree with this decision, and thank Councilman Marks for listening to our concerns," Commander Jim Rebbert said in the release. "The Towson American Legion Post is an important part of the community, and we look forward to participating in future discussions about the redevelopment of Towson."

At a June hearing, David Kosak, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, also urged Marks and the council to retain the current zoning, "so we can keep Towson the way we, as a community, want to see it."

The CZMP process fielded 59 requests for zoning reviews in the 5th District, including 21 in the Towson area. Ultimately the County Council — and each district representative —decide to support or reject changes.

The County Council is scheduled vote on the overall CZMP package at a meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 28 in the council chambers, in Towson.