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County Council broadens influence of Design Review Panel

Towson Times

The Baltimore County Council on March 2 passed a resolution proposed by Fifth District Councilman David Marks, mandating that the county's Design Review Panel review the look of residential as well as commercial projects in the downtown Towson core.

Previously, the nine-member panel of professional architects and engineers was charged only with reviewing design elements of planned commercial development projects in downtown Towson.

Marks, whose district includes Towson, said last month that planned high-rise apartment buildings are as "critical" to Towson's growth as retail and office projects are. Reviewing and tweaking housing project as deemed necessary is important to area residents because, "These buildings are going to be with us for 60 to 70 years."

Supporting the measure is Mike Ertel, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, who said after the bill was introduced, "Basically, any building that's being built in the core should have to go through the design review process. Why would you exclude residential development?"

Ertel said purely residential projects already planned include 101 York, a student housing development near Towson University with 248 apartments, housing more than 600 students; a project at 703 Washington Ave., with 105 apartments; and Towson Mews at Jefferson and Washington avenues, with 35 apartments.

Then, there are mixed-use projects like Towson Row, the biggest proposed development in Towson, which, Marks said, was already being reviewed by the Design Review Panel. That project calls for 350 apartments and condominium units and 300 housing units to be marketed to college students, as well as 200 hotel rooms and 100,000 square feet of restaurants and shops anchored by a Whole Foods supermarket.

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