Flood-weary Towson homeowners ask Baltimore County to buy property

The bridge in the Overbrook neighborhood of Towson that crosses Herring Run and routinely floods. The County Council will vote on the purchase of two properties on the other side of the bridge.

During Thursday’s rainstorm, Herring Run spilled its banks in Towson’s Overbrook neighborhood, residents say, intensifying calls for a solution for two houses affected by flooding.

In the cul-de-sac at the end of Worthington Road, the two homes are separated from the road by a private bridge spanning Herring Run. When it rains and Herring Run rises, the water covers the bridge, residents say, damaging it and cutting off residents from the road.


“They’re basically on an island there,” said County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson.

Two months ago, Marks said, the homeowners approached him proposing that Baltimore County purchase the houses. By doing so, the county could demolish the houses and turn the land into a stormwater retention area, Marks said. But the county said no.


“The homes in question do not meet the criteria to qualify for purchase under the flood control program,” said county spokeswoman Dori Henry.

Mark Cyzyk, who lives in one of the affected homes, called selling the homes to the county “a plan that gets us personally out of a long-suffered situation, but that also is a net benefit for our county."

His family has lived in the house for 13 years, but he told the Towson Times last year that it was not until about six years ago that the water from Herring Run began hitting the bridge and filling the cul-de-sac during storms.

In one of those early storms, Cyzyk said 12 cars in the cul-de-sac were damaged. The bridge, which Cyzyk owns, grew structurally weak from repeated flooding, and Baltimore County code enforcement recommended he stop driving across it to get to his house.

He said last year that the bridge could cost more than $75,000 to repair and more than $150,000 to replace — and then, with repeated flooding, could be damaged again.

Marks said the increased flooding started before development took off in Towson and is most likely due to stronger summer storms seen more frequently due to climate change.

In 2016, the county purchased and razed six flood-prone houses in Overbrook, leaving behind open lots of grass to fill with water during storms.

But the county says the two houses across the bridge on Worthington do not qualify because the structures themselves do not have first-floor flooding or a foot of water in all four corners of the building during a 100-year storm.


Cyzyk said his home got some basement flooding Thursday — but regardless of whether his house floods, being cut off from the road is a problem, he said.

Buying the houses would also give the county a large retention area, Marks said, preventing the need for an expensive project to widen the culvert that backs up under nearby Stevenson Lane. He estimated that the cost of buying the two homes and engineering a stormwater retention area would be about $1 million.

“The bottom line is, this is a problem; it’s not going away,” Marks said.