Councilman proposes downzoning to retain ‘distinctive character’ of York Road corridor in Towson

The zoning is "intense," said Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, and he wants to lower it so the area does not lose its small-town charm.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks has proposed a change that would prohibit businesses with drive-through windows from developing along York Road in the Anneslie neighborhood, as part of the county’s Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP).

Every four years, members of the public and the County Council propose zoning changes that the council eventually will vote on. Marks said Tuesday he has proposed downzoning a corridor of York Road, from about Dumbarton Road to Overbrook Road from “Business Local” zoning to a more restrictive “Community Business” zoning.


“I think a lot of residents did not realize how intense the commercial zoning is in that corridor,” Marks said.

“Business Local” zoning allows for arcades, car washes, service garages, medical clinics and other personal services, according to Baltimore County zoning regulations. The “Community Business” zoning is “highly restrictive,” according to the guidelines, and intended to serve “daily shopping and service needs” of surrounding communities.


One of the main goals, Marks said, was to prohibit businesses with drive-through windows, like a Starbucks that opened in 2017 at the intersection of York Road and Regester Avenue, in response to neighborhood concerns that they would increase traffic and congestion along York Road.

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Scott McGovern, president of the Anneslie Community Association, said the neighborhood was happy with Marks’ proposal to downzone the stretch of York Road from Dumbarton to Overbrook Road. McGovern said Marks approached the community association about investigating zoning changes in the area, and then the community association came back with the proposal for the “Community Business” zoning.

“We want to see a continuation of appropriate development,” McGovern said. “We like the mix of small shops, we like the mix of locally owned, locally invested businesses. Residents are drawn to this neighborhood because they can walk to an ice cream shop, because they can walk to a hardware store.”

Businesses on that stretch of York Road include Uncle Wiggly’s Ice Cream, Pure Raw Juice, a hardware store, a barbershop, a yoga studio and a pharmacy. McGovern, who has lived in Anneslie for about 18 years, said people like the neighborhood because they “can take their families out and be a part of the community.”

Marks said he wants to see the Anneslie area be a “very distinctive part of Towson” that retains a unique, small-town feel as downtown Towson develops and urbanizes.

The Anneslie area is also included in plans for the Towson Circulator, a free bus that would connect areas of downtown Towson.

The Comprehensive Zoning Map Process operates on a strict timeline. Members of the public were allowed to submit zoning requests in September and October, and County Council members could submit requests in November. From now until February, county staff will review the requests to provide recommendations. Then, public hearings will be held in each council district in March and again in June.

The County Council will vote on the zoning changes between July 1 and Sept. 16, 2020.