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Loyola signs pact curbing property use; Neighbors negotiated over former temple site


North Baltimore neighborhoods and Loyola College signed an agreement last night restricting the school's development of the 21-acre former Boumi Temple site on North Charles Street.

The unusual, 10-page document, or "memorandum of understanding," governs various nuisance issues, from shrubbery design to building style, until 2015. Loyola acquired the former Masonic lodge property in 1996.

Loyola's president, the Rev. Harold E. Ridley Jr., S.J., said yesterday the college will "almost immediately" begin construction of a 115,000-square-foot fitness and aquatics complex on the site of the recently demolished temple building.

The $20 million sports complex, including an Olympic-size pool, is due to be completed next year.

"We have managed to stay at the table and come to common ground," Ridley said of the sometimes arduous two-year bargaining process.

Tom Marudas, a Guilford resident who was lead negotiator for the North Baltimore Neighborhood Coalition, said: "In a nutshell, we recognize Loyola's right to develop property they acquire; and they recognize our concern that development happen in an orderly, rational fashion."

Loyola had no legal obligation to allow the restrictions on its property and, observers say, few academic institutions in Baltimore have such agreements with their neighbors.

Representatives of three neighborhoods -- Blythewood, Wyndhurst and Homeland -- took part in talks. The residents' primary concern was to avoid large numbers of students congregating outside, as they do at "the beach," the John Hopkins University library lawn.

Specific requirements spelled out in the pact range from traffic lights to building restrictions. The college and the neighborhoods agreed, for example, to ask the city to install a traffic light on Charles Street for traffic coming in and out of the sports complex.

Even more important, from the neighborhood perspective, is the college's legally binding agreement not to build any dormitories, or more than one outdoor playing field or a student union on the site, at least for 16 years. Multistory parking structures, incinerators, and waste treatment plants are also forbidden.

The college also agreed to replace or maintain a wrought-iron fence along the northeastern boundary. Indoor activities will end at midnight and outdoor activities at sunset. No lighting of the athletic field is permitted. One intercollegiate sport, swimming, is allowed, but the number of spectators is limited to 100.

Ridley characterized the proposed use of the complex as "benign" and said that no alcohol will be available to students. "I think the neighbors will find it will not affect their quality of life."

Coalition negotiator Andrew Stern said he was pleased with the outcome, which he described as a political consensus. "Neither side got everything they wanted," he said.

Pub Date: 2/12/99

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