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Towson Manor Village Community Association raising questions over rezoning proposals

The Towson Triangle, which includes the Towson American Legion Post property, shown, has been the subject of a rezoning request as part of the county's quardennial Comprehesive Zoning Map process.
The Towson Triangle, which includes the Towson American Legion Post property, shown, has been the subject of a rezoning request as part of the county's quardennial Comprehesive Zoning Map process. (Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

The Towson Manor Village Community Association is planning an "emergency meeting" this week to discuss two proposed zoning changes in the Towson Triangle that the association fears will lead to taller, higher-density development.

The Towson Triangle is an area bounded by Towsontown Boulevard, Bosley Avenue and York Road.

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American Legion Towson Post 22 has requested to change the zoning on 9 acres inside the triangle from Business Major to Business Major – Town Center Core. Another group, DMS Development LLC, has proposed a similar change to 2.6 acres in the triangle.

The addition of a Town Center Core designation, or CT, would allow buildings in that area to be exempted "from any required front, side or rear yard setback, or any setback from the center line of any street, or any building height limitation," by the director of permits, approvals and inspections, according to the county's zoning code.

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Several Towson residents are circulating a petition asking the Baltimore County Council to keep a proposed Towson Urban Center overlay district north of Towsontown Boulevard, so as not to make future developments in the downtown core too dense. Also, a bill by Councilman David Marks to ease parking restrictions for a development that is proposed on the site of Trader Joe's was expected to be voted on this week.

The community association, which represents 500 homes, is opposed to those changes. They have scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 at First Lutheran Church, at 40 Burke Ave.

The county is in the midst of its Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, done every four years, during which any person can request a change in zoning on any property.

The county's Planning Board has already reviewed, heard public comment and issued recomendations for those proposed changes — 161 proposals in District 5 alone, which includes Towson. The board has recommended adding the Town Center Core zoning as requested by DMS Development.

"We will not accept defeat," Towson Manor Village Association President Joe La Bella said in an email. "This battle to prevent overdevelopment in the Towson Triangle is not over and set in stone."

Aug. 30 the Baltimore County Council will hold a special meeting and give a final vote for the new zoning designations.

Counciman David Marks has not yet taken a stance on either proposal. Marks said he will not be able to attend the meeting Aug. 17.

"I appreciate the input of neighborhood associations like Towson Manor Village, which is why I have already agreed to support open space zoning for Towson Manor Park and to block more intense commercialization at Willow Avenue. But the Towson Triangle zoning issues are very difficult," Marks said in an email. "I understand the community's perspective about maintaining green space and limiting the height of buildings, but am concerned that future projects — as we have seen with 101 York — will get bogged down in drawn-out litigation."

The 101 York project, according to DMS Development's website, is a proposed 248-apartment development which would house 610 students, in addition to four levels of parking and 9,300 square-feet of street-level retail space.

Messages seeking comment were left for DMS Development LLC and the American Legion.

This story has been updated to correct the planning board's decision regarding the American Legion property.

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