Local officials held a public meeting last week to kick off the work of a task force to focus on redevelopment in the Loch Raven area.
Local officials held a public meeting last week to kick off the work of a task force to focus on redevelopment in the Loch Raven area. (Courtesy image/Baltimore County / HANDOUT)

Saying he is “not satisfied” with development along Joppa Road in the area where it intersects with Loch Raven Boulevard in Towson, Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said he plans to review the properties and zoning designations in that area to “attempt to spur improvement.”

“I would like there to be some more residential development and perhaps some residential development that is denser and higher,” Marks, a Republican, said Tuesday. “Certainly more upscale restaurants and other businesses, I don’t think we have that right now.”

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Marks said the area he’s going to be studying with a committee made up of local business and property owners and representatives of local community associations is bounded by Danyway Road to Oakleigh Road to the west and east, and the Beltway and Joan Avenue from the north to south. Those boundaries cover most, but not all, of the Loch Raven Commercial Revitalization District that’s been designated by Baltimore County.

Businesses inside revitalization districts in the county are eligible for certain tax credits if their investments increase the assessed value of a property by $100,000 or more. Businesses can also get 10 billable hours of work from an architect for free and receive interest-free loans for exterior building improvements.

The the area is “woefully” under-invested in, especially when considering its proximity to I-695, Marks said, adding that some recent projects, like a Starbucks where the Bel-Loc Diner used to stand and a Wawa gas station and convenience store on Joppa near Lasalle Road, showed examples of positive development in the region.

“We’ve had some improvements, but nothing on the scale of Towson,” Marks said. Towson also has a Commercial Revitalization District, which centers around downtown. That part of Baltimore County is in the midst of a development wave, including projects like Circle East, Towson Row, Towson Station and Towson Square.

The work Marks wants to undertake includes examining public safety, general landscaping and zoning in the area. The committee he is assembling will be chaired by Jordan Levine, a local property owner.

Marks said 10-12 people will serve on the committee, and meetings will start later in the fall. He wants to kick off the process with a town hall meeting to discuss the region, he said. A date has not been set, but Marks said he’d like to have it take place in early October.

Levine in a statement said there is “no excuse why more redevelopment” is not happening in the Loch Raven area. Marks said the committee also will include someone from the Towson police precinct and representatives of the Towson Communities Alliance and nearby neighborhood associations, including Loch Raven Village and Ridgeleigh.

Marks said he hopes the committee will develop recommendations on whether certain properties in the region should be rezoned for either more or less density. He would like the recommendations “by the end of the year,” he said.

Marks noted there isn’t much land available for development in the Towson and Loch Raven areas. While declining to be specific, he said some buildings might have to be demolished and replaced.

Baltimore County is in the midst of its Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, which takes place every four years and allows any citizen to request a zoning change on any property in the county. The process follows a specific timeline, which is posted online. Members of the public can file an application for a zoning change until Oct. 15; council members will be able to file zoning applications from Nov. 1 to Nov. 29.

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