Baltimore County to consider new zoning rules for downtown Towson

The Baltimore County Council will consider new zoning rules to guide development in booming downtown Towson.

Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, introduced a bill Monday that would create a downtown overlay district the council could use when making rezoning decisions this summer as part of the county's quadrennial review of zoning.


The goal, Marks said, is to establish standards for construction of new projects, including requirements for lighting, signage, parking, landscaping, pedestrian access and other features.

In the past, Marks has sponsored bills for individual projects in Towson to accommodate urban design — noting the occasional conflict in zoning code that was written for a suburban county. Parking has been a specific concern for developers.


"I constantly have to write legislation for specific projects," said Marks, a Perry Hall Republican.

Downtown Towson has already seen an influx of development, including the construction of the Towson Square development with movies and restaurants, the revitalization of the Towson Commons center and the renovation of the Towson City Center building. And more is on the way, including the massive mixed-use Towson Row project and a renovation of the Towson Circle development to include an apartment tower and hotel.

The idea of a zoning overlay specifically for downtown Towson has been in the works for a year and a half. In December 2014, the council asked the county's Planning Board to study the idea of a Towson zoning overlay. The Planning Board reported back in December, and Marks has been working with community groups in Towson on the bill.

The bill is on track for a vote in early June, but Marks said he's willing to delay the vote if he gets a lot of feedback and needs to change the bill.

"I wanted to get a bill out there for everyone to see," Marks said Monday after introducing the proposal at a Baltimore County Council meeting.

Marks said he hopes to have the bill approved in July, so the council can use the Towson zoning overlay during rezoning decisions in August.