Marks says Planning Board motion will retain Colony's zoning

Fifth District County Councilman David Marks said this past week that a motion to maintain the current zoning for Towson's the Colony at Kenilworth will be advanced this Thursday, May 3, when the Planning Board votes on its Comprehensive Zoning Map Process recommendations.

"I think that would settle things down a bit," Marks said of the motion regarding the Colony — one of the more controversial local sites in the county's quadrennial CZMP.

As part of the CZMP review, owners of the Colony had requested that the property be rezoned from its existing DR 16 category, which allows for 16 units per acre, to RAE 1 and BL CCC, designations that would allow for an apartment building with as many as 40 units per acre and some commercial retail space.

Marks had actually raised the Colony as a CZMP issue as a means of bringing the developers into discussions about its student housing problems. The developers instead requested the zoning increase, and the Planning Board offered its preliminary support.

Backlash from the Riderwood Hills Community Association and the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations led Marks to meet with developers and contact Scott Jenkins, the 5th District Planning Board representative, to address the associations' concerns.

In an email to community leaders last week, Marks said a motion to reverse that recommendation will be made when the Planning Board votes on its final recommendations at Thursday's 4 p.m. meeting. That session will be held in Room 104 of the Jefferson Building, 105 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson.

"I think leaving the Planning Board recommendation at (the current DR 16 zoning category) would place a burden on the developer to make a plan," Marks said.

"We're just delighted," said Trish Mayhugh, president of the Riderwood Hills Community Association. "Councilman Marks has just worked so hard. I know this has been a real headache for him, but he's doing what the neighborhoods want him to do."

Marks said discussions with developers will continue into the summer, and that he's made it clear to the owners' attorneys that if any future changes are made, he would prefer them to be done with a planned unit development — a process that requires a "community benefit" component.

"We're waiting to see what type of proposal the developer comes back with, and we'll have those discussions with the community," Marks said.

"This is quite frankly my top zoning issue in Towson, and I would really like to see a quality project at that site," he said.

Ultimately, Marks has the say in the CZMP process. After Thursday's Planning Board vote, the council will hold public hearings over the summer on all of the CZMP issues and vote on a final zoning package by mid-September.

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