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Plan for restaurant, retail space raises concerns in Catonsville


A plan for a restaurant and retail space in the center of Catonsville was the subject of concern from residents at a two-hour hearing yesterday, as they questioned the impact it could have on traffic, noise and lighting.

A Baltimore County hearing examiner is expected to rule on the plan for a Friendly's Restaurant at Frederick Road and Egges Lane early next year, part of a push to rejuvenate the commercial district.

Neighbors of the proposed complex -- which would include a 12,600-square-foot retail building -- turned out to express concern that the development might alter the community of Victorian homes with a small-town flavor.

The developer, Tom Booth, plans to raze three old houses and replace them.

"I feel as good as I'm going to feel about it," said Michael Shochet, an opponent and neighbor of the planned complex as he left the hearing. "I'm not sure whether a Friendly's is the best answer."

The 3,800-square-foot restaurant would be next to a small park decorated with ornamental, 15-foot street lights designed to complement the neighborhood's architecture, said Steve Warfield, an engineer. A row of evergreen shrubs would line the rear of the complex where it abuts a residence.

Catonsville Chamber of Commerce officials see the Friendly's development as part of a push to rejuvenate the Frederick Road corridor that includes a street- scape project under way.

Jim Mohler, a chamber member, said at the hearing: "We've looked at this property for a long time, and we're excited someone has stepped up to the plate to work out a plan. We're delighted this is coming to fruition."

New businesses are starting to grow in older communities such as Catonsville, Randallstown, Arbutus, Essex, and Pikesville, bolstered by the strong economy and a campaign by the county's Office of Economic Development.

Some merchants have complained that businesses along the Frederick Road corridor have been hampered by the strip malls that line nearby U.S. 40 and the quaint shopping and culinary offerings of Ellicott City.

Booth said no tenant had been identified for the retail space, but said he would return to the county's design review panel to unveil plans for that building.

Pub Date: 12/22/98

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