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Clipper Mill residents raise concerns about overdevelopment at community meeting

Baltimore councilman Leon F. Pinkett talks to a Clipper Mill resident group about potential development in the area.
Baltimore councilman Leon F. Pinkett talks to a Clipper Mill resident group about potential development in the area. (Catherine Rentz)

Dozens of residents of the Clipper Mill community packed into the Millrace condominium building Monday morning to oppose plans to develop hundreds of more residences in the neighborhood.

Resident Jessica Meyer spoke out about concerns that ValStone Partners, a Michigan-based investment firm that owns much of the old cotton mill site’s property, was trying to repeal an agreement with the city that guides the area’s development.

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ValStone has proposed as many as 336 new apartments at Clipper Mill, a community of brick industrial buildings dating to the 19th century. The firm spent nearly $19 million on multiple buildings in the 17.5-acre enclave last year.

The redeveloped mill area is anchored by Woodberry Kitchen, which helped pioneer the farm-to-table movement in Baltimore when it settled in the area’s Foundry building in 2007.

Meyer warned that “historic buildings could fall, tall modern buildings could be erected, and passage through and parking in our community could be made close to impossible.”

But Caroline Paff, a principal at VI Development, which is consulting on the Valstone project, said in an email that VS Clipper Mill will not seek repeal of the planned unit development at this time.

“VS Clipper Mill has no specified timeline or sense of urgency to redevelop two of the four potential development sites,” Paff wrote. “It is perfectly happy moving forward with the projects it is entitled to develop by the existing Planned Unit Development (PUD).”

Baltimore Councilman Leon F. Pinkett attended the residents’ Monday meeting and told them he hadn’t received any formal request to repeal the PUD.

However, he assured them, “under the current plan I’ve seen that’s been proffered by this owner, I would not introduce a bill to repeal.”

The group cheered loudly in response to Pinkett’s words. He added that he believed there could be more transit-oriented development of Clipper Mill, but based upon what he’s seen, “it would not be in the best interest of the community to move forward to repeal the measure that protects the integrity of this community.”

Pinkett said he’s received more than 100 emails from local residents opposing any repeal of the city’s agreement with the community. More than 1,100 people have signed an online petition against revoking the development agreement, which was finalized with the Baltimore City Council and the mayor in 2003.

Baltimore Sun reporter Meredith Cohn contributed to this article.

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