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727-apartment complex proposed for Aylesbury Road

727-apartment complex proposed for Aylesbury Road
Fore Property Co. has proposed a 727-unit apartment property adjacent to Bluestone Restaurant on Aylesbury Road. The second phase, which would  be built on property now occupied by the Printing Corporation of America, which still has a 15-year lease on its site, according to Jim  Sullivan, vice president of Fore Property Co. (Rendering courtesy of Fore Property)

Plans to build a 727-unit apartment complex on Aylesbury Road in Lutherville-Timonium will come before the Baltimore County Council during a work session set for Wednesday, Nov. 12.

The council is expected to vote on the resolution at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 17.

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The planned unit development, or PUD, would be built in two phases, according to a resolution introduced by Councilman Todd Huff, who represents the 3rd District including Lutherville-Timonium.

"Our main focus had been the first phase," said Jim Sullivan, vice president at Fore Property Co., which will develop the property. He said long-term plans include a second 399-unit building on the property now occupied by the Printing Corp. of America. But since the printing company has a 15-year lease, that phase will remain in the long term, according to Sullivan. Printing Corp. of America representatives were unavailable for comment.

Sullivan said the company decided it would be more beneficial to seek PUD approval on the entire 11-acre plan at the same time, even though the second phase could be more than a decade away.

If approved, the first 328 units would be built in a five-story structure with two courtyards, a pool and parking garage on the site between the Timonium Business Park Light Rail station and Aylesbury Road. An additional 399 units would be built adjacent in a similar style and with similar amenities, according to a letter to Huff from attorney Jason Vettori, who represents Fore Property Co.

The site is adjacent to the Bluestone Restaurant at 15 W. Aylesbury Road, according to the site plan presented to Baltimore County. Small offices and retail space on the lot would be razed to make way for the new construction, Sullivan said. If the PUD is approved and design and construction documents make their way through the Baltimore County approval process, construction on the first phase could begin by the end of 2015.

The PUD resolution was introduced to the County Council Oct. 20.

Fore Property Co., which has offices in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Houston, has developed and managed 19,000 apartments in 15 states. It recently developed Groveton Green apartments, a Gold LEED certified project, in Owings Mills, according to the company's website. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.

The Lutherville-Timonium property is currently zoned ML-IM or manufacturing light, industrial major.

"In the ML zone, we do not allow any residential development," said Aaron Tsui, of the county's Office of Zoning Review. He noted that a PUD is one way to get a zoning exception, such as for residential.

"We have a hard time believing it's going to be a good fit for Aylesbury Road," said Eric Rockel, of Lutherville, president of the Greater Timonium Community Council, an umbrella organization representing 50 associations in an area bounded by the Baltimore Beltway, Dulaney Valley, Falls and Shawan roads.

Rockel said the area — where an electric supply company, auto repair shop and self-storage company are among the residents — seems ill-suited for luxury apartments.

Not only does the area not seem desirable for apartments, said Rockel, the project has some serious competition from a number of other apartment projects in the works nearby. These include the 295-unit Winthrop development near Goucher College and a 332-unit project by Greenberg Gibbons at Hunt Valley Towne Centre.

"It's going to be a challenge in my estimation," Rockel said.

"It's not a done deal," Tsui said, adding that the PUD process provides for several opportunities for the public to voice their opinions about a proposal.

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The county requires at least one community benefit for a PUD resolution to be approved. The developer has said it will provide a contribution of $35,000 to the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company, which serves the area, according to the PUD resolution. The project as proposed would be have a Silver LEED certified rating and be built with a high quality architectural design, according to the resolution.

Rockel said he has written to Huff expressing his misgivings about the project. He is concerned not only about the location, but the size of the project which could overtax the already overcrowded nearby Lutherville Laboratory Elementary School.

Diana Spencer, spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Schools, said last year's enrollment of 554 was 36.12 percent above the state rated capacity of 407. Enrollment figures for the current school year are not yet available, she said.

The County Council work session on Nov. 12 begins at 2 p.m.

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