School boundary study to decide where students from new Lutherville development will be districted

Castanea Estates, a new 40-house development underway on the former Chestnut Ridge Golf Course in Lutherville, stands at the border between two school district feeder patterns, going into either Pikesville or Dulaney high schools. A boundary study conducted by Baltimore County Public Schools currently in process will determine what students in the development will attend.

The development just west of Falls Road straddles two districts: Mays Chapel Elementary, Ridgeley Middle and Dulaney High to the east; and Fort Garrison Elementary and Pikesville Middle and High schools to the west.

The result of the boundary study would move the boundary so that the entire 40-home development would be included in one district.

Yara Cheikh, president of the Ridgely Middle School PTA, said the process has been less contentious than many.

“There’s much less disagreement because we’re not redistricting children, we’re creating a new boundary, and that by its nature tends to be less controversial,” Cheikh said.

CJ Ilardo, a principal with Cignal Corp. and the company’s lead on the project, said the development has 40 approved lots and multiple families already living in the community.

“I’d prefer that the lots be in the Dulaney school district so that all of our community can attend [one] school district,” he said in an email.

The impact on school capacity will be minimal, Cheikh said. A school system analysis included in the boundary study determined that the development is expected to bring nine elementary school students, four middle school students and seven high school students into the BCPS system.

Melissa Appler, coordinator for strategic planning at BCPS, told attendees of an Oct. 29 public information session that the county is soliciting feedback on which schools Castanea Estates students should attend from community members in an online survey, which will be live until Nov. 12.

The next step in the process, Appler said, is a Nov. 19 meeting of the study’s 26 committee members, who represent parents and staff from each of the six schools. The committee will decide on one proposal to present to the Baltimore County Board of Education. After a public hearing on Feb. 20, Appler said the board will make a final decision on March 5.

The development is physically closer to Mays Chapel Elementary and the schools it feeds into than it is to Fort Garrison Elementary. It is 2.2 miles by car from Mays Chapel and 6 miles from Fort Garrison.

The Castanea Estates development was approved in 2017 amid concerns from preservationists about its environmental impact.

The developer, Cignal Corp., originally wanted to build 100 houses on the former golf course. The county limited them to nine, pleasing preservationists; but soon after the County Council reversed the decision, allowing the developer to build 40 houses on the property, the Baltimore Sun reported in September 2016.

The Timonium-based developer bought Chestnut Ridge after it closed amid financial troubles in 2011. It's redeveloping the 230-acre property as an exclusive neighborhood called Castanea, the Latin word for chestnut. The project is in a desirable area of northern Baltimore County, where suburbia gives way to rolling countryside, but still close to Interstate 83 and the Baltimore Beltway, The Sun 2016 article reported.

Real estate broker Heidi Krauss currently lists lots in the development starting at lots starting at $700,000 and a home for $2.5 million.

Cignal Vice President Joe Maranto told The Baltimore Sun in 2016 that Castanea will be a gated community, with the entrance marked by a stone gatehouse. Nearly half of the land will be preserved in forest buffers and conservation easements, he said.

Any school boundary changes would be effective July 2019, according to a school system information packet.

This story has been updated to reflect that Castanea Estates is partially occupied.

asolomon@baltsun.com

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