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Baltimore County

Balto. Co. councilman says he'll block Fort Howard redevelopment

A developer's plans for turning a crumbling waterfront Veterans Affairs property into more than 1,300 homes took a hit Thursday night.

Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell, who represents the area, told members of the North Point Peninsula Community Council he opposes the redevelopment plans for the Fort Howard Veterans Affairs property. He flatly said that he will not support zoning legislation that's necessary for the project to move forward.

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"It's not going to happen. Not on my watch," said Crandell, a Dundalk Republican.

Dozens of local residents packed into a small library at Edgemere Elementary School in hopes of hearing an update on the project from developer Tim Munshell, but he did not attend.

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Last year, Munshell's Fort Howard Development LLC signed a long-term lease with the VA to redevelop the property with shops, medical offices and 1,300 homes for veterans and others into a project called the Landing at Fort Howard. Though the lease was signed in 2014, Munshell's plans were first announced in 2011.

Munshell could not be reached for comment Friday.

Munshell is the second developer tapped for the project. The first, John Infantino, backed out after saying county zoning and tax issues made the project financially unworkable. He was forced to return application fees that dozens of veterans had paid for a spot in the project, which he called Bayside at Fort Howard.

For years, residents along the North Point Peninsula have objected to major redevelopment at Fort Howard, which has a small outpatient clinic amid boarded-up buildings. A VA hospital at the site closed in 2002.

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Years ago, the North Point Community Council agreed to support up to 300 units at the site, though at Thursday night's meeting, most said they'd prefer a new VA hospital instead.

"We're not interested in building a city down there," said Harry Wujeck Jr., president of the North Point Peninsula Community Council.

For Munshell's project to move forward, he would need approval from the Baltimore County Council to go through the county's planned-unit development process. The process allows for flexibility in zoning rules -- including increasing the number of allowed homes -- if the project is deemed beneficial to the community.

Crandell said he will not sponsor the legislation for the planned-unit development process as long as Munshell's proposal is for "a megatropolis."

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In Baltimore County, council members hold unusually strong power on zoning issues. When the council takes votes on zoning matters, members almost always defer to the council member who represents the district where the zoning change is requested.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter


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