The Baltimore County Council voted Monday to allow a gas station and retail project in Towson to move forward, over objections from residents who say it would be an unwelcome addition to the community.
Dozens of opponents went to Towson to watch the council vote unanimously to advance plans for Towson Station, proposed for the busy corner York Road and Bosley Avenue.
Caves Valley Partners is buying the site, formerly a fire station, from the county government, with plans to build a retail center with a Royal Farms gas station.
Residents say the gas station will attract traffic, harm the health of students at a nearby school, send unwanted light into residential neighborhoods and present an uninspiring welcome to downtown Towson.
After Monday's vote, Ron Gallop accused council members of "subverting the desires of the community."
The Towson man waved cash and said of developers: "This is the one thing they want."
Councilman David Marks, who sponsored the measure, said it was the most difficult decision in his six years on the County Council.
The Perry Hall Republican, who represents Towson, said he "tried to find a middle ground" between residents and Caves Valley, but could not.
Caves Valley needed the council's approval to move Towson Station forward as a planned-unit development, a process that grants zoning flexibility in exchange for a benefit to the community.
The project was formerly known as Towson Gateway, but Caves Valley recently changed the name.
Caves Valley needs flexibility because existing zoning won't otherwise allow a gas station. The community benefit is more than $50,000 for improving a trail, planting trees and installing solar-powered speed display signs.
Christopher Mudd, a lawyer representing Caves Valley, declined to comment following the vote. Company officials did not attend the meeting.
Opposition intensified when Caves Valley won the bid for the property and proposed building a gas station.
Though the council approved the planned-unit development designation, the process is not over. Caves Valley still must take its project through a county review process that involves additional public hearings.
Opponents said they were disappointed by Monday's vote but not surprised. Wendy Jacobs, an organizer with the Green Towson Alliance, said opponents will have to regroup.
"This is round one, but this is not the end," she said. "There is a very strong feeling against this type of development at that location."