The Baltimore County Council will decide this month whether to advance plans for a new apartment complex in Timonium — a move sponsored by the departing councilman for the district but opposed by residents and the new councilman elected this week.
Fore Property Company wants to redevelop an industrial site on West Aylesbury Road into a five-story building with more than 300 luxury apartments.
"We do believe this is a great area for multifamily development that's much needed in the area," said Jim Sullivan, a vice president of Fore Property Company.
The company has applied to have the project considered a planned-use development, a designation that must be approved by the County Council. The designation allows flexibility from some zoning rules in exchange for the developer providing a "community benefit." Fore Property would be required to restore a nearby stream and donate $35,000 to the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Department.
Some neighbors say the council is moving too fast on the project, and want Councilman Todd Huff, a Republican who lost his seat in the June primary, to pull it from consideration for now. They want Councilman-elect Wade Kach, a fellow Republican who won election Tuesday, to decide the project's fate.
"I thought it was sort of inappropriate for [Huff] to introduce this when he's leaving office, that it would be more appropriate to get the feelings of the next council person," said Eric Rockel, president of the Greater Timonium Community Council, which opposes the project.
But Huff's bill supporting the PUD designation could be decided before Kach takes office in December. The Aylesbury project is scheduled to be discussed at a council work session Wednesday, and a vote could be taken on Nov. 17, the current council's final session.
Timonium community council members have raised concerns about the project's potential effect on traffic and schools. They also question whether luxury apartments are a good fit for an industrial area.
"It's in the middle of a manufacturing/industrial area — light industry, but still industry," Rockel said. "You think to yourself, 'Well, is that really going to attract a luxury customer?'"
Kach, of Cockeysville, said he may ask the council not to vote on the project.
"Let's see what the community has to say," Kach said. "The fact that people have come to me asking me to kill it or hold it up means they believe it hasn't been properly vetted."
Even if the current council approves the PUD designation, Kach could ask the new council members to rescind the approval.
"If I find that it hasn't been properly vetted, if I can put in legislation to put it on hold or repeal it, then I would do that," he said.
Sullivan said he hoped the council wouldn't give the project its blessing, then reverse itself.
"That would put us in a bind, because we have a fair amount invested in it," he said.
Huff, of Lutherville, said he believes the apartments would be a boost to a stretch of West Aylesbury Road that needs redevelopment.
He said the site, which currently has a building that houses a gym, an e-cigarette shop and other businesses, is "sitting a little stagnant." He said the apartment residents could use a nearby light rail stop.
Huff said he's confident the process that comes after the council's blessing, which includes a public meeting and several planning reviews, will adequately consider traffic and other concerns.
Sullivan, who developed the Groveton Green apartments in Owings Mills, said the Aylesbury apartments would include a parking garage and a pool.
Initially, Fore was seeking approval for two buildings, with more than 300 units in each. Sullivan said he's now seeking approval only for one building and may return for approval on a second building on an adjacent site several years from now.