On April 2, a hearing was held at the Baltimore City Zoning Board to determine whether the zoning authority would grant conditional use for a gas station to a new, mega-Royal Farms store. This would operate 24/7 with at least 12 gas pumps at the intersection of Harford, Glenmore, Grindon and Old Harford Roads in Hamilton.
All Northeast community associations voted against this development with hundreds of outraged citizens turning out to voice their opposition at meetings over the course of many months. This development is suitable for an interstate or busy highway, not a residential neighborhood of old homes which has been struggling, slowly but with some tenuous success, to revive itself as a viable community with small, locally owned businesses lining Harford Road, including an independent gas station and several great restaurants.
The intersection is a traffic nightmare, well-known to the city, which is now going to spend $400,000 of taxpayer money to create a new traffic pattern on behalf of the privately owned Royal Farms.
The city councilman, Bobby Curran, although a supporter of this Royal Farms project from its inception, promised to represent the wishes of the Northeast community if it opposed this new Royal Farms project, which it did. Every community association in the Northeast area voted (almost unanimously) to oppose this project. Unfortunately for those he purports to represent, Mr. Curran appears to be working for Royal Farms, not his constituents.
During the zoning board meeting, Mr. Curran vocally supported Royal Farms, sat with the Royal Farms lawyers, and watched as many community members asked the zoning board to refuse the conditional use for Royal Farms. Mr. Curran's months-long "behind the scenes" support for this development, dogged undermining of community opposition along with his pro-Royal Farms letter read at the hearing trumped, the wishes of his constituents. The fix was in long before the zoning board hearing, which turned out to be nothing more than a formality. The zoning board took exactly 10 second to ignore the community and grant Royal Farms the conditional use permit.
Mr. Curran couldn't be bothered to support his constituents, although he certainly has no problem picking up the paycheck and the perks of being of city councilman, both provided by the constituents he can't be bothered to represent. This is the result of one-party rule. No matter which party rules, the corrupting influence of power, money and privilege makes voters and constituents merely a means to an end. Mr. Curran's actions in direct opposition of those who vote for him and support him should be a wake-up call to voters across this city. These politicians don't even both to hide their disdain for their constituents anymore because they don't need to. They know you'll always vote them back in. It's past time to stop rewarding these lazy, corrupt politicians and start voting for your and your community's interests.
Maria Allwine, Baltimore