UPDATE—College Manor has also issued a letter to the editor concerning the matter of Councilman Todd Huff's attempt to ease tensions between the assisted living facility and the surrounding community association.
Third District Councilman Todd Huff has introduced a bill that "essentially kills" the possibility of Historic Lutherville neighborhood residents reaching an agreement with a local assisted living facility over its zoning change request, according to the president of the Lutherville Community Association.
(View the full letter below)
College Manor sought to up-zone the property to constructing a new building, while being able to renovate the existing structure. The problem was that College Manor submitted to rezone the entire 11.56-acre property, when they represented that they only needed 4 acres.
LCA president Lawrence Hooper wrote to the County Council in a letter obtained by Patch (see below) that "quick fix" legislation is not the answer.
I am the President of the Lutherville Community Association ("LCA") and we represent the area of Lutherville which encompasses the Lutherville Historic District, which is a Baltimore County Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I am writing to express our opposition to Bill 48-12 (see attached PDF) that has been introduced by our County Councilman, Todd Huff. The bill is a classic example of prohibited special legislation and spot zoning, creates a bad precedent that could adversely affect every historic district in the County, and undermines any ability of the LCA to negotiate a resolution with College Manor Assisted Living ("CM") concerning a rezoning request submitted by CM in a way that protects the Historic District.
CM is located in the heart of the Historic District. For over 30 years, the LCA and CM have been in conflict over CM's desires to expand its facilities. This year, CM has filed a request to rezone its property (the area to be rezoned has since been reduced to 4 acres) from DR2 to DR16. In the past, every Council person for our district has rejected CM's efforts to expand its facilities, finding that the expansion plans were deleterious to the character of the Historic District. Councilman Huff apparently takes a contrary view and has introduced Bill 48-12 so that CM can proceed with its project regardless of the outcome of the rezoning process.
We have made a great deal of progress in our negotiations to reach an agreement on a protective covenant that permits CM to do what it says it wants to do and preserves the Historic District from long-term damage from the project. The appearance on the scene of Bill 48-12, before those negotiations have concluded, essentially kills any likelihood that we can reach an agreement. We have kept Councilman Huff abreast of our negotiations and he is very aware that we have reached a sensitive stage. But his desire to see that CM is able to build its project come hell or high water by trumping the rezoning process with a quick fix piece of legislation is the wrong way to go.
Bill 48-12 blatantly only applies to CM and by any measure is special legislation and spot zoning that is prohibited under the Maryland Constitution and the County Charter. The Council needs to put an end to it. If it is allowed to pass, then no historic district will be able to protect itself from deleterious development by having developers go through the rezoning process. The developer will just get the Council to pass a bill to create a new special exception like Bill 48-12, the interests of the community be damned.
The bill also tilts the field in CM's favor and stands as an impediment to the parties concluding the negotiations. This situation does not need a legislative fix. The parties just need to have a level playing field on which to negotiate and this situation is likely to take care of itself.
Please stop Bill 48-12 in its tracks. It is a bad bill, sets a bad precedent, and creates many more problems than it solves.
Lawrence (Laurie) Hooper
The bill is scheduled for a vote on Aug. 6. The County Council will discuss the matter in a work session on July 31.
Stay with Patch as we continue to update this story.