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Halethorpe residents share mixed emotions as Dec. 1 hearing on controversial Maple Ave. town house development looms

Halethorpe residents are preparing for a virtual meeting on Wednesday with county and developer representatives about the highly contentious Southern Crossroads project, a proposed town house development at the end of Maple Avenue.

The developer, Mark Levy of H&H Rock Cos., was set to meet for a second time with concerned residents on Monday to address the highly contentious project, according to Halethorpe Improvement Association (HIA) representatives. The developer’s last-minute changes to the project have left them scrambling, they added.

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“Throughout the development process, the developer has repeatedly submitted changes to the plans at the last minute — even up to and including the day of a hearing — thus not giving residents nor even the county enough time to review the changes,” said William Carter, HIA vice president and a 29-year resident of Halethorpe. “These last-minute changes have put us at a significant disadvantage without sufficient time to analyze them.”

“What surprises might be in store for us this time, and how can we possibly prepare for them?” he added.

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Levy has not returned repeated requests for comment on this story.

Halethorpe residents are opposed to the construction of a townhome housing development along Maple Avenue in Halethorpe.
Halethorpe residents are opposed to the construction of a townhome housing development along Maple Avenue in Halethorpe. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media)

Last year, a group of residents strongly opposed a proposal calling for 196 town houses on a 72-acre tract at 4100 Maple Ave. Developed by Elkridge-based H&H Rock Cos., the project also would feature a convenience store, gas station and dog park. The site, which formerly housed Good Shepherd Services, a school and treatment facility center for adolescents, was sold to the developer in 2019 for $7.5 million.

“There would need to be a lot of changes to the project before we would be happy about it being in our neighborhood,” HIA President Michael McAuliffe said last year.

Many residents were frustrated after a July development plan hearing was rescheduled to Sept. 23 after Judge Maureen Murphy issued a postponement to resolve community concerns about stormwater management due to developer-submitted revisions.

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Casey Jackson, who has lived in the Halethorpe community for seven years, previously said the developer pulled a “fast one.”

“I think they were frankly ill-prepared for the slew of additional questions outside of stormwater management that we posed,” she said.

The next hearing for the project is scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday, via Webex. Should more time be needed, the meeting will be continued on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, as requested by the developer.

Residents are challenging development to a 72-acre property, formerly owned by Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and adjacent to Halethorpe Elementary School and single family homes on Maple Avenue in Halethorpe.
Residents are challenging development to a 72-acre property, formerly owned by Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and adjacent to Halethorpe Elementary School and single family homes on Maple Avenue in Halethorpe. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media)

Jerry Chen, project manager for development management at the Baltimore County Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections, stated that the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability and the Baltimore County Department of Parks and Recreation are scheduled to testify. An appeals process can be assessed if the proposed development is approved, according to Chen.

Jackson said Halethorpe residents have “mixed” emotions as the next hearing nears, and many do not trust Levy, “based on historical media accounts of his neglect to engage the community on their terms.”

“We hope he uses his influence to improve the surrounding community and shows us that he is not just another developer out for self interest at the expense of the surrounding community,” Jackson said.

During the September hearing, residents questioned Levy’s intentions and his unwillingness to meet with the community. The residents also highlighted concerns about street safety, school crowding, street parking capacity and environmental impacts.

A message left seeking comment from the developer, Levy, was not returned.

Chen previously said the county has looked at any potential traffic, parking and stormwater flooding impacts in the area.

Carter said Levy met with community members on Oct. 13 and made changes to the proposed development as a result.

“… He has reduced the number of [town house units] from 196 to 182,” Carter said; however, during that meeting Levy failed to mention new environmental impact variance requests that the developer submitted to the county in September. The variances of forrest buffers and forrest conservation were officially approved by the county on Oct. 14, he said.

Levy has also met with Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. to address issues involving the neighborhood, according to Sean Naron, a county spokesman for Olszewski.

“The administration had a meeting with the project developer to discuss the developer’s concepts to make infrastructure improvements in the surrounding communities. We will continue to monitor the progress of this project and remain committed to ensuring that any potential development serves as a benefit to the entire community,” Naron wrote in an email.

HIA is preparing a presentation as Halethorpe residents await the next hearing on Wednesday, Carter said.

“The community is mixed in emotion between ‘hopeful’ and ‘skeptical’ … we’re also disappointed that the county isn’t doing more to adhere to their master plan promises to improve green space and infrastructure,” Jackson said.

Anyone seeking more information about this hearing should visit the county government’s website. Registration for this event must be completed at least two business days in advance by completing an online request form, according to the website.

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