State Board of Ed Strikes Down Mays Chapel School Site Approval

The Baltimore County Board of Education's decision to make Mays Chapel Park the site of a new 700-seat elementary school has been overturned. Another hearing has been scheduled for January.

UPDATED (12:05 p.m.)—The Maryland State Board of Education has reversed the decision made by the Baltimore County Board of Education to make Mays Chapel Park the site of a new elementary school.

The Baltimore County Board of Education violated state law regarding legal notice requirements for a March 19 site selection hearing, the conclusion of the legal opinion reads. Specifically, BCPS did not publish in a newspaper the location and time for a hearing take took place on March 19.

"It is a victory for all of us opposed to the construction of a 700 student elementary school on the Mays Chapel Park site," Whistler Burch, chairman of the Save Mays Chapel Park community group." The reasons are many, as you have heard.  We as a group are not against the students, but feel strongly that there are many alternatives that make more sense both for the children, the Baltimore [County] Board of Education, and economically for the taxpayers of Baltimore County."

The Baltimore County Board of Education announced Wednesday that another hearing will be held on Jan. 14, 2013 at 6 p.m. at Loch Raven High School.

“We look forward to giving the community another opportunity to provide input on the proposed Mays Chapel Elementary School. We will be sure to provide sufficient and transparent notification to make sure all interested stakeholders are aware of the hearing date, which has been set for 6:00pm, January 14, 2013, at Loch Raven High School,” Larry Schmidt, BCPS Board president, wrote in a statement.

“We will notify the public through the required notification tools such as public notices in local newspapers, but we will also go above and beyond that by making sure we use our own communication tools including the website, BCPS-TV, and press releases to the media,” he continued.

The Board did not dispute that a legal notice was not published in a newspaper, however, according to the state's decision, "the local board argues that it has substantially compiled with the statutory provision because many interested individuals had actual notice."

UPDATE (12:45 p.m.)—The document sites a March 6 Board of Education meeting where the March 19 hearing was announced. That meeting however concluded without an official location or time. About 100 people concerned about the new school were present at that meeting.

BCPS published details about the hearing at Loch Raven High School the following day, March 7, in a press release. The Board also pointed to various print, online and broadcast media outlets who publicized the meeting via reports over the course of two weeks.

State law requires that at least 10 days notice be given, and printed at least once in a general circulation newspaper.


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PatH December 19, 2012 at 09:11 PM
This is a community of seniors! An elementary school does not belong in the middle of this neighborhood. Keelty donated this parcel of land nearly 2 decades ago so they could effect a zoning change to create the current high rise buildings. If it was meant to be a school, then it should have been built long ago before the senior community living concepts were developed. The County can find a location that will create less traffic and evironmental issues for our seniors. They matter too.
David Taylor December 19, 2012 at 09:20 PM
If this folks didn't want to live next to an elementary school, they shouldn't have moved in next to one. Just saying... There's a reason why community planning occurs over many years, and in this case, they were given 20+ years notice. Was that not sufficient???
PatH December 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM
As I said above, Keelty donated this parcel of land nearly 2 decades ago as a gift to the county which coincided with a zoning change to create the current high rise buildings. It was never part of any long range school construction plan or land purchase. If it was meant to be a school, then it should have been built long ago before the senior community living concepts were developed. The County can find a better location in a family community similar to Pinewood that will create less quality of life issues for our seniors. They matter too.
Charles M. Freburger December 19, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Do you work for Mr. Kamenetz, Mr. Taylor, or are you a good friend? As for the mob scene, REALLY? Bottom line, there was NOT proper notice and you know it. As for this being an underhanded maneuver by the state, you have a lot of heart. Who was more underhanded than the County Board of Education? How can any person who has seen this location think it"s good for a school. POLITICS has again reared its ugly head in an attempt to ramrod this school through. Mike F.
suburbguy75 December 20, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Am I wrong or was this never a secret what was going to be built there? I grew up there and ever since they first cleared that land and straightened out Padonia Rd, it was known to all that a school was to be built when needed. Nasty old farts. You knew it was going to be a school. Go steal some sugar packets and mints.
Mark Ostrowski December 20, 2012 at 02:22 AM
I'm not retired, I work every day, and live in the condo community. I find the comments about seniors by some of you rude and embarrasing. Not because I consider myself one (some might! ) but because we will all be there! It is really irrelevant when the school was planned, who gave the land, etc. Also, presuming that people who pay taxes (and have for years) are not concerned about education is also foolishness. We live in a county that constantly complains about parkland and open land being at a premium, yet we plan more construction. My position is clear: buy the land for a park (add it to the adjoining park, which, by the way, would be impacted by a road and other adjustments for the school), use the money to add school space to existing options. And please, keep your embarrasing comments to yourselves! Certainly it's not a good example to the children you purport to educate.
Charles M. Freburger December 20, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Straightened out Padonia rd ??? I'm sorry but am i missing something. It is one of the more dangerous roads in the county.As for knowing there was going to be a school here,most of us probably did'nt. As for the nasty old fart comment i take solace in the fact that you know what you are and i sort of feel sorry for you Mike F
Dennis King December 20, 2012 at 03:55 AM
A few important facts: 1) Keelty didn't donate the land. He deeded that parcel to the County in exchange for a parcel of county-owned land and the right to overdevelop the property he owned.; 2) The ADC maps have shown the area as the future site of Mays Chapel Elementary School for over 20 years. Anyone who bought without looking at the map has no right to complain; 3) If, as someone suggested, the property should be purchased and kept as a park, it should be appraised and purchased by the area residents from their own funds, not those of the taxpayers; and 4) the site is inappropriate for commercial development. However, if the residents oppose a school, then let the County relocate the Detention Center to the Mays Chapel site. The County could build an elementary school adjacent to Carver and have room for a new fire station.
LT guy December 20, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Well said, David.
LT guy December 20, 2012 at 04:06 AM
That's why they hire engineers, Tom, to fix potential problems like that. If people keep talking like you, I'd support a nightclub for college students on the site, or a recycling center, or a chicken farm.
David Taylor December 20, 2012 at 04:22 AM
That's funny Mike ... I was *at* the meeting (having received notice just like the hundreds of other people who were in attendance). I experienced first-hand the awful behavior - there was literally a mob of nay-sayers shouting down several moms who tried to speak to the board in favor of a new elementary school. It was disgraceful ... and so is this latest tactic. There's nothing underhanded about the school system building a school on school property that's been marked on the planning documents and even the ADC maps as the (planned) site of an elementary school. The nay-sayers have known for years about plans to build a school - they came out in force against a special needs school being built just a couple years ago (and that meeting was another very ugly scene courtesy of the anti-school NIMBYs) http://archives.explorebaltimorecounty.com/news/6047183/mays-chapel-group-organizes-against-use-park-school/ It's nit-picking, this stuff about a news-paper ad, ...everyone got notice, flyers and emails went out, hundreds attended, they had their say... but they want a do-over, so let's do it all again :) See you on Jan 14th my friend ...try to behave in a civil manner this time.
David Taylor December 20, 2012 at 04:30 AM
You are absolutely right Mark! We need better planning of our open space resources! If only the county would set-aside acreage for schools when they draw up community designs, and set aside areas of designated open space prior to the growth and development of the surrounding area, then we could make sure that park land is set aside and school land is planned for ahead of time! Oh wait, that's exactly what was done here 20 years ago. Nevermind. Let's build the school on the school land, what do you say?!
David Taylor December 20, 2012 at 04:34 AM
I like the detention center idea ... it's quiet, no kids, low-traffic, no buses coming in/out, everything the May's Chapel says they want... and putting a school next to a school would help things at least in the RogersForge/Towson area. #4 is Brilliant!
Old Terp December 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM
The county policy here appears to be use it or lose it. Choose your poison Mays Chapel : new elementary school or the land is excess and gets sold to a private party ... so it returns to the tax rolls yadda yadda
Dan December 20, 2012 at 10:58 PM
The land was purchased with Fed funding to remain public land "accessible to all". The land was "converted" by what two land use lawyers in Balto Co have told me is an illegal transfer. Unless the County wants to refund monies for this and all other transfers like this (upwards of 18 we've uncovered so far), this land should and must remain a public park.
Dan December 20, 2012 at 11:02 PM
What a great deal for taxpayers. Let's build a school at the boundary of the Urban Rural Demarcation Line (URDL), far from the madding crowds, and farther from where the children live. Why put a school where the children live? It makes much more sense to buy and fuel busses to transport them to a building nowhere near where they live. The County's own numbers indicate this will be a >95% commuter school. I am investing in busses!
Debbie Hanlon December 20, 2012 at 11:39 PM
At the time of purchase, owners had sign the diclosure about the master plan. So if they didn't want a school as a neighbor they should have bought elsewhere. Schools should be in residential areas, it is a big part of what makes a community.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:00 AM
PatH, you are kidding, right? Maybe your little slice of May's Chapel is senior oriented, but Mays Chapel itself is a sprawling comminity of single family homes, townhomes and garden apartments. Keelty probably thought that piece of land was the least desirable for the residential and commercial uses he planned, so he donated that to the county. And I would say it is the fault of the developers for changing plans for that piece of land, not the county. The county didn't need schools in the central area back in the 80s (hence the then closure of Lutherville Elementary -- since reopened -- and Towson Elementary). Now they need it.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Dan, for those of us from an earlier era, the buidling of Mays Chapel itself violated the long-standing URDL of I-83 north of Timonimum Road. If the URDL had not been moved to create a sprawling community, they would never have needed to plan a school near the boundary of the URDL. By the way, I belive Pot Spring and Warren elementary schools also were build at the edge of the URDL many decades before.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Katy, my parents sent me to 12 years of Catholic school. Yet I never once heard them make such a nasty remark about their taxes being used for public education.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:10 AM
David, I live in far northwestern Carroll County, and I knew about the meeting. Those antiquated notice rules were designed to funnel income to the press (says the long ago newspaper reporter). Your comments are spot on.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:13 AM
David, my solution is to keep it park land .. and create lighted baseball and softball diamonds and a lighted multi-purpose soccer-football-lacrosse field on the land. That way it can be used for recreation until 10 p.m. every night from March through November. If it's a park they want, then it is a park they shall get.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:18 AM
No worse than the exhaust fumes that eminate from a location in Pikesville everyday, right Mr. Marr?
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Yes you are missing something. If you had ever driven the stretch of Padonia Road just west of I-83 before Mays Chapel was built, you would KNOW that it had more curves and was much narrower. Of course, back then, that was supposed to remain RURAL land and not have a massive commuinity built on it, so that wasn't a problem.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:29 AM
But Pat, they didn't NEED another school in the York Road corridor then. Also, much of Mays Chapel IS like Pinewood, but Mr. Keelty chose not to provide land to the county in that part of the development. You anger should be directed at Keelty for 1. donating possible school land in the wrong part of his development and 2. changing his plans for the parcel where your 55-over community was built. But its much easier to rail at the government.
Katy Peters-Rodbell December 23, 2012 at 02:45 AM
If they paid 9k in property taxes each year, they might have. I wasn't intending to be nasty, I fully support a good public education. I'm not particularly worried about "nice surroundings" versus a parking lot around a school that JAS was commenting about. The important part is the education.
Ed December 23, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Katy, I didn't realize the amount of property taxes you paid determined how much of a say you have. I still own the home I grew up in and our taxes are ONLY 3k. Regardless, it's much cheaper to build schools in "nice surroundings" (i.e. in open space or currently undeveloped land) than it is to build it in an already developed area.
LT guy December 23, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Great idea, Ed!
LT guy December 23, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Mr. Freburger, do you live near the proposed school site? Something tells me you are just another selfish NIMBY.
Captain Obvious January 04, 2013 at 02:13 AM
What a shame to see folks fighting against the contruction of an elementary school.


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