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In this night scene rendering of the 101 York project proposed by DMS Development, which will feature student housing and retail space, the front of the building faces York Road. At left is the Towson University Marriott,
In this night scene rendering of the 101 York project proposed by DMS Development, which will feature student housing and retail space, the front of the building faces York Road. At left is the Towson University Marriott, (Rendering provided by Marks, Tho / Rendering provided by Marks, Tho)

A developer seeking to build a high-rise apartment building for college students in the heart of Towson has been dealt a setback.

A Baltimore County administrative judge rejected plans last week for 101 York, a 248-unit student housing project proposed for York Road, just north of Towson University's campus.

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In his ruling Thursday, Administrative Law Judge John E. Beverungen rejected the plans from developer David Schlachman of DMS Development on the grounds that the project doesn't have an approved stormwater-control plan.

Once Schlachman obtains stormwater approval, Beverungen set several restrictions on the 101 York project, including requiring the developer to pay more than $1.3 million in fees toward open-space projects. DMS also must restrict the building's residents to Towson University students and cannot put a bar or tavern in the building's ground-floor retail space.

The large open-space fee represents a victory for some Towson residents, who have complained that that some redevelopment projects in the downtown Towson's York Road corridor are paying little to nothing in open-space fees required by a 15-year-old Baltimore County Council resolution.

Brian J. Murphy, an attorney representing the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, was glad to see significant open-space fees applied. He was disappointed, however, that the judge didn't reject the project entirely.

"Towson has many, many more people than it has parks for the people. ... There aren't enough public parks and open spaces in Towson," Murphy said. "GTCCA is happy this decision said they're not exempt from paying an open-space waiver fee."

In Baltimore County, developers are required to include a certain amount of open space — such as playgrounds and parkland — in their residential developments.

If developers can't include the open space in their project, they can ask for a waiver and pay a fee to the county instead. Those fees vary but are often waived entirely in Towson, based on a County Council resolution that dates to 2000. Dormitories were exempt from open-space requirements, Murphy said, because it's assumed that the residents would use college facilities for recreation.

Saying that resolutions are supposed to be only temporary and administrative in nature, Beverungen said the 15-year-old resolution should no longer apply. He also noted that county law requires open-space fees to be updated every two years, which had not happened.

In his ruling, Beverungen said 101 York should include at least 236,000 square feet of open space under county development rules. Since no open space is included in the project, the developer should be charged $5.74 per square foot for a total of $1.36 million, the judge ruled.

Murphy said the ruling on open space is not binding on future development proposals, but he expects it could be raised in future cases.

Neither Schlachman nor his attorney, G. Scott Barhight, responded to requests for comment Monday. However, they have filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider his ruling, including the provision on the open-space fees.

Michael Ertel, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, said that while his group is pleased with the open-space portion of ruling, it also plans to appeal the decision.

"We are still hoping that DMS will come back to the table and develop a more suitable and smaller-scale mixed-use project for the site," he said.

The 101 York proposal would include 11 stories of apartments over two stories of garage parking and ground-floor retail. More than 600 students would live in the building.

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Members of American Legion Post No. 22 next door to the 101 York property also opposed the project, saying the building would tower over their post. They also raised concerns that residents and visitors to 101 York might park in their parking lot. The Legion's attorney could not be reached for comment Monday.

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