In preparation of a county-mandated community input meeting for a proposed infill development in Catonsville, a group of about 30 residents from the Ingleside neighborhood met informally on Thursday with developers to ask questions and voice concerns.
The development, to be located at 736 Edmondson Ave. and first proposed in October by Craftsmen Developers, would bring 23 townhomes, nine single-family homes (32 residences) and a church to a 6.1-acre plot of land that’s zoned for 5.5 homes per acre. The proposed number of homes is within zoning limits.
The 6.1-acre plot is owned by Good Shepherd Church which is working with Craftsmen Developers on the development. The charismatic Episcopal church is currently meeting in a converted garage behind what used to be a funeral home on the property. The church approached Craftsmen Developers to construct residences on the property in order to develop a source of income so that the congregation could construct a new church.
Good Shepherd Church purchased the building and plot of land in 2012, according to county tax records, with the intention of moving the congregation into it, but the Rev. Martin Eppard, the church’s founding pastor, said in a previous interview that they found the building to be “beyond repair.”
Eppard did not respond on Friday to a request for comment.
Matthew Riesner, president of the Ingleside Neighborhood Association, said that folks were concerned with stormwater management and school capacity among other issues during the meeting held Thursday at St. Hilda’s Episcopal Church in Catonsville.
“The neighborhood is pretty much completely opposed to the current plan. Me personally, I think the plan needs a ton of work. I’m not anti-development, I just think this development hasn’t really taken a lot of account for the community,” Riesner said.
Conor Gilligan, vice president of land management for the Glen Burnie-based Craftsmen Developers, said the development process was still in its early stages and that it was too soon to make any formal changes to the plan.
“I usually don’t like to change the plan until everyone who’s supposed to have seen it, sees it,” Gilligan said. “On the sidelines, we can start to make adjustments, but we should all be talking the same plan.”
As part of the development approval process, stakeholders will have another opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns on the proposed infill iduring an input meeting scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 20.
Gilligan said that the Nov. 15 meeting helped inform him about residents’ concerns he was not aware of prior such as those around stormwater management.
David Buck, director of the office of communications at the Maryland Department of Planning, said inclusion on the inventory “carries no regulatory protections or financial benefits.” Some people in the community had posited that the building being listed in the inventory could protect it from demolition and thus would stymie the development.
During the October concept plan conference with Baltimore County agencies, officials raised concerns with the first draft of the plan, including the potential traffic burden, property setback and environmental preservation.
Craftsmen’s Gilligan said it was still early in the process and the informal community meeting was “the first of many steps” where the plan could adjust.
County Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents Catonsville and the Ingleside neighborhood, said that in “a perfect world” the developer would change course and build a 55-plus community for residents without children.
“Then you don’t have any more kids into schools that are pretty much at capacity, so I think that would be a better fit for this area,” Quirk said, adding that the project may already be too far along to totally change course.
“I’m hopeful the developer and church can meet the community somewhere in the middle,” Quirk said.
The community input meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the Catonsville Library.