The Baltimore County Council on Tuesday paved a smoother path for Towson Row, a proposed $350 million mixed-use redevelopment project on York Road.
Council members unanimously approved a bill allowing the county's permits director to grant Towson Row exemptions to certain rules for height, area and signage.
Towson Row would include a mix of 374 apartments, 225 student housing units for four students each, a 150-room hotel, a 1,500-space parking garage and 200,000 square feet of offices, restaurants and retail shops anchored by a Whole Foods grocery store.
It's being built along York Road between Chesapeake Avenue and Towsontown Boulevard by Caves Valley Partners, a Towson-based development company.
Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican who sponsored the bill, has said it's needed because current zoning rules in the mostly suburban county can't accommodate a large urban mixed-use development such as Towson Row.
Some residents of Towson, however, urged Marks and the council to delay the vote to give more time to consider Towson Row as part of a broader review of zoning districts in downtown Towson.
"We'd kind of like to slow down the process," Mike Ertel, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, told council members during a work session last week.
Marks made some changes to the bill in response to community concerns, including requiring the permits director to give a public notice that explains the necessity of any zoning exemptions granted to Towson Row. He also removed the ability for the permits director to grant waivers for parking rules, but instead Towson Row can use county-owned garages in its calculation for meeting parking rules.
Caves Valley will pay for some open space projects in the area. The bill approved Tuesday requires that money for those projects be used within three miles of Towson Row – changed from two miles in the original bill.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, council members unanimously approved a bill giving themselves the authority to vote on changes in parking meter rates and hours for meters owned by the Baltimore County Revenue Authority.