Council panel delays Icon vote

The Baltimore Sun

After a three-hour hearing last night, the City Council's land-use committee decided to delay a vote on the Icon tower proposed for Canton so that Baltimore's transportation department can have time to figure out how to handle the area's burgeoning traffic.

Jamie Kendrick, the transportation department's deputy director for administration, asked the committee to take no action on the project until his agency could "develop a full plan" for the Boston Street corridor.

"There are at least a dozen significant developments coming to that area over the next four to six years, and to look at any project by itself doesn't make sense," Kendrick testified. "We can't just put together a plan 'just like that' for the corridor."

About a hundred onlookers packed City Hall for the hearing, mostly people from the Canton area who feared the waterfront high-rise would further congest traffic and block views.

The Icon, a $75 million condominium and retail project planned for what is now a parking lot for the Lighthouse Point shopping center, would rise about 260 feet, or 23 stories. It would include 160 units that would cost from $400,000 to $1.7 million.

Before it can be built, the City Council must allow what is called a "major amendment" to Lighthouse Point's 1980s building plan so that the developers could build more on the property than what was originally allowed.

To build higher than 72 feet, the developers also need an amendment to Canton's urban renewal ordinance.

Canton's council representative, James B. Kraft, and Mayor Sheila Dixon have stated firm opposition to the plan - as have a number of other council members. Before last night's decision to delay a vote, it appeared the project had little chance of getting the committee's approval, which would effectively kill the proposal.

The developers, Timonium-based Cignal Corp., told the committee that they scaled down their original plans to appease the community - to no avail. Marco Greenberg, Cignal's vice president, reminded the crowd that the city's planning department and Planning Commission endorse the project.

"The Icon will transform the Canton waterfront and add sophistication to the city's skyline," he said.

But Jack Stout of the Canton Community Association board said that people will be "thrust into the shadow of this monstrosity just because somebody bought some property who wants to make a fast buck."

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