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Council rezones Catonsville Promenade land, denies restaurant request

The owners of Matthew's 1600 in Catonsville sought to change the zoning of the land so a porch could be added. The rezoning was denied.
The owners of Matthew's 1600 in Catonsville sought to change the zoning of the land so a porch could be added. The rezoning was denied. (Jon Bleiweis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A rezoning approved Tuesday night has opened a path for Whalen Properties to advance plans for the Promenade, a proposed Catonsville mixed-use development in the works since 2004.

Votes on a series of Comprehensive Zoning Map Plans by the Baltimore County Council also included the denial of a Catonsville restaurant owner's request to add a dining porch.

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The council approved the rezoning of a 14.75-arce parcel along West Kenwood Avenue that serves as the final piece of the puzzle for Whalen Properties to begin work on the Promenade, a mixed-use development that includes shops, restaurants, hotels and housing.

Now that the land is rezoned, Whalen can combine it with adjoining land it already owns with the same designation.

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The parcel, which has about six acres that can be developed, will serve as the Promenade's entrance, said developer Steve Whalen.

"It's a small step in a much larger process and project for us," he said. "But it's an important one."

County Councilman Tom Quirk, whose district includes Catonsville, said for every comment against the proposal, there were three in favor of it.

"There wasn't even a tenth of the controversy from the community as I thought there would be," he said.

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Whalen said the next step is to get a plan approved for the new parcel, which could take up to a year. The developer also plans to start looking for a joint venture partner to help with financing.

The Baltimore County Council will decide Aug. 30 whether Matthew's 1600 will be able to expand with a deck, among other rezoning issues

Whalen hopes to begin construction in 2018.

In another case that stirred some controversy, the County Council, based on Quirk's recommendation, denied an application from Matthew's 1600 restaurant owner Lori Parsons to change zoning on her land to allow construction of a porch for outdoor dining.

The county Planning Board recommended the change, as long as a covenant to restrict land use was met between the restaurant owners and the community.

Residents were concerned about what could happen at the land if the Parsons family sold the business, Quirk said, adding the covenant would have addressed those concerns.

The covenant was never agreed upon, Quirk said.

"I'm sorry it couldn't work out in a way that was a win-win for everyone," he said. "Quite simply, we ran out of time."

Matthew's 1600 owner Lori Parsons could not immediately be reached for comment.

The council's decisions put an end to the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process for 2016.

The process occurs every four years and allows any citizen to request a zoning change in the county. There were a total of 59 changes requested throughout the first council district, which covers the southwest portion of Baltimore County.

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