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Readers Respond

Lutherville transit proposals draw mixed reactions from residents | READER COMMENTARY

A screengrab of an MDOT MTA presentation maps seven options for a possible north-south transit route: Lutherville to University of Maryland Medical Center via (1) light rail or via (2) rapid bus along York Road and Greenmount Ave; (3) Towson to Harbor East via bus rapid transit along York Road/Greenmount Ave; Towson to Port Covington (recently renamed Baltimore Peninsula) via (4) subway under York Road and Greenmount Ave. or via (5) rapid bus along York Road and Greenmount Ave.; (6) Lutherville to Otterbein via light rail along Goucher and Loch Raven boulevards; (7) Towson to Harbor East via rapid bus along Joppa Road and Loch Raven Blvd.

Lutherville connector would create a ‘College Corridor’ that benefits all

I know a student who attends Towson University but has never actually visited the city of Baltimore. She is not alone, and that is a shame. Aside from aiding workers and easing downtown traffic congestion, the proposed Lutherville connector would connect students from Goucher, Towson, Notre Dame, Loyola, Hopkins, Morgan, MICA and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in a linear “College Corridor” (”Baltimore County residents push back against transit proposals to speed riders between downtown Baltimore and Lutherville,” Dec. 16).

It would allow entrepreneurs to create easily accessible hub(s), with coffee shops, bookstores, bars, entertainment venues, bike shops, hip stores, etc. — the types of places where students from different campuses could gather, share ideas, have fun and spend money.

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A de facto “College Town” would enhance the experience of attending college in the Baltimore area. It could help enrollment and help change Baltimore’s image. Schools and students, as well as businesses, would benefit from a “College Corridor” that connects our great schools, and once they get to know the place, some of those students may choose to stay here when they graduate. From this point of view, the Lutherville connector is way overdue.

— Mac Nachlas, Baltimore

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Lutherville residents ‘universally’ opposed to corridor extension

We strongly believe that each constituent of Lutherville is entitled to their opinion. However, as President of the Lutherville Community Association and a resident of the greater community, our neighbors have overwhelmingly informed us of their opposition to the North-South Corridor extension to Lutherville. The thousands of residents in Lutherville from the Beltway north universally believe there are better, more efficient alternatives to significantly improve our regional transit system.

Of the many ways to improve the current bus and light rail service in our area, we recommended using current technologies to obtain the more efficient, timely transit desired by the ridership. One option would be eliminating fares, as D.C. recently did. The Maryland Transit Administration could also modernize to require all electronic prepaid fares, all-door boarding, implementing signal priority and implementing shuttles from Towson and significant hubs in town to existing light rail stations in Mount Washington and Woodberry.

The options proposed in the North-South Corridor Options extension to Lutherville will crush small businesses and waste our tax dollars duplicating the existing and severely underused bus and Light Rail service above the Beltway.

Our communities were not designed in the 1800s to be walkable with more than a horse and buggy. There are no sidewalks to York road from the side streets, and York Road between the Baltimore Beltway and Lutherville is narrow, heavily congested. York has no room to expand more lanes without the use of eminent domain to purchase and demolish the existing business infrastructure. The local community members have no reasonable way to get to these proposed new and improved conveyances except to walk down the middle of the narrow two-lane streets from their communities to York Road.

We’re not asking the state to neglect public transit. We are asking that our tax dollars be used efficiently. We are not in the 1960s. The light rail was perhaps a shortsighted decision at the time it was implemented, but we shouldn’t make a bad decision worse by moving forward inefficiently.

Do we need better regional transit, yes. The question is where and at what cost.

We should spend tax dollars to connect our rail to the D.C. transit system. We should spend tax dollars to connect the existing system to Canton, the newly renamed Port Covington development or even Pennsylvania. We should spend tax dollars on an East-West solution that goes farther east/northeast to White Marsh or Tradepoint Atlantic.

We should even consider spending time, tax dollars and energy on additional sidings so that express service to downtown could be provided on the existing light rail system running from Hunt Valley to Baltimore.

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We all agree that improvements are needed, but we strongly oppose any of the wasteful, duplicative and highly disruptive options presented in the North-South Corridor Study.

— Pamela K. Shaw, Lutherville

The writer is president of the Lutherville Community Association.

‘Widespread community support’ for Lutherville light rail station

I am writing in support of your Dec. 12 editorial about Baltimore County’s effort to address mixed-use developments, particularly Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and the redevelopment of the Lutherville Station property (”Will Baltimore County embrace a new generation of mixed-use town centers?”). I also read with both intrigue and irony the letter from Eric Rockel on Dec. 17, which was written in opposition to the proposed Lutherville Station development adjacent to the Lutherville Light Rail Station (”Lutherville Station not appropriate for a town center”).

While The Sun is asking “will Baltimore County embrace a new generation of mixed-use town centers,” Mr. Rockel relies on a 1950s statement from the Zoning Commissioner to provide context to his opposition. The character of the Lutherville commercial corridor has changed considerably since then, especially when you consider the construction of the Baltimore Beltway, the substantial commercial activity along York Road north of the Beltway, and the construction of the Lutherville Light Rail Station in the 1990s. Each of these ideas may have been considered radical in its day, but is an example of smart and necessary progress.

As the president of The Friends of Roland Run (FORR), an environmental and community group focused on the Roland Run (a watershed located behind the Lutherville Station property), we wholeheartedly support the merits of the redevelopment. Lutherville Station will have significant benefits for stormwater runoff and flood mitigation, while enhancing the housing options available to Baltimore County residents.

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It is also important to note that the proposed TOD is not in any way connected to the MDOT proposal to extend the Light Rail from Timonium to Towson. The latter is a state-sponsored study on transit. On the other hand, the proposed TOD is a major economic development adjacent to an existing light rail station and serviced by existing bus lines. The TOD fits in as part of a regional development framework and can anchor community revitalization efforts (like Lutherville Station), and in the process, boost local and state tax revenues.

Further, what is not being reported is widespread community support inside the Lutherville community for the Lutherville Station project. The developer proposed a Restrictive Covenant Agreement to the Lutherville Community Association board in May 2021 (when I was president of the LCA) to address all development issues, such as stormwater management, traffic, density, restrictive uses on the property and more.

The developer also agreed to work with the community on a Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) so that the community would have an “equal seat” at the table to ensure that the community’s interests were taken into consideration. FORR’s purpose is to protect the environment, protect the community and protect our infrastructure. For this reason, FORR hopes to influence the development so that the development proposal is environmentally friendly and does not exacerbate the flooding of our streets, roads, houses — all coming from the Roland Run.

In short, we believe that the Lutherville Station development plan is forward-thinking, and considers the issues affecting the community. The light rail was built here many years ago — and is not going away. So, we support more investment around the existing station, not a return to policies and planning principles of the 1950s.

— Allen Hicks, Lutherville

The writer is president of The Friends of Roland Run.

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Put in a Trade High School at Lutherville Station

As I sit here this evening reading comments about Lutherville Station on the internet. I realize there may be an opportunity that we all are missing. Once the Caldor store left Lutherville Station, it has been a revolving door of businesses. There has been strong pushback against the light rail and apartments from the surrounding communities. Most residents do not want to see either there for a multitude of reasons. But why have we come up with so few options for the space?

Lutherville Station is on a bus and light rail line. There is plenty of access in and out of surrounding communities, including the city. Both Dulaney and Towson high schools are overcrowded and being rebuilt. I believe we should take this opportunity to build a Trade High School at Lutherville Station. There is a lack of talent in almost every trade nationwide. My family owns a collision repair facility and are confronted with this fact on a daily basis. Before proposing this idea, I called several other business owners (trades) in the surrounding area. Every one of these business owners said they would love to participate in helping a trade school, and most said they would be willing to pick up and drop off at the school while paying these students/trainees for their work. I think we could put in a legit trade school where kids go take the courses needed to graduate and go work trade jobs getting hands-on experience.

Homeownership is the number one way middle-class Americans generate wealth. Setting kids up to work in trades where they can earn a decent living without being burdened with college debt would be a huge start. Many kids go to college because they are unsure of what they want to do after high school. Let these kids try out two to three trades in high school and promote entrepreneurship. I promise it will be life-changing for many of these kids.

— Jason C. Rommel, Timonium


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