As indicated earlier this week by County Councilman David Marks, the Baltimore County Planning Board on Thursday voted against upzoning a Towson apartment complex.
The Colony was the only issue dealt with separately as the planning board voted to approve the rest of the recommendations made in work sessions earlier this year. Nancy Hafford, a planning board member from Towson, moved to sequester the issue while Scott Jenkins of Perry Hall—Marks' appointee—seconded the motion. The board voted unanimously to recommend that the county preserve the complex's current zoning.
"The goal would be to redevelop the site in a manner that's sensitive to the project, the neighborhood and the environment," Jenkins said, proposing a comment to be added to the motion.
Marks had raised the property as an issue in the quadrennial rezoning process to spur discussions about further land use, but the planning office's staff recommendation—made after the Colony's owners submitted a letter to the office—took residents, community leaders and Marks by surprise.
In its preliminary work session on the subject, the board voted to accept that staff recommendation.
Residents in nearby neighborhoods, including West Towson and Riderwood Hills, raised concerns with the potential traffic impacts of a future development.
The Colony, whose tenants are mostly area college students, has been a frequent site of police calls and student misbehavior.
Residents met with officials of Denver-based Aimco, the complex's owners, last week. Marks has said in interviews with Patch that he encouraged the developer to push for a planned unit development at a later date, which would allow for more extensive public participation and input.
Howard Perlow, a board member from Pikesville, questioned Hafford before the vote about the appearance of discouraging a development moving forward near Towson's core.
"I just have a little bit of a problem that we're using this to bring them to the table," he said.
Hafford said afterwards that the lack of plans submitted by Aimco for the new development and the failures of Colony management over the years to work with Towson University and community groups contributed to her decision.
"There haven't been any plans," said Hafford. "We really hope that that property can be redeveloped in a positive way, where we don't have the impact that we've had over the last couple of years."
The recommendations on 296 countywide zoning issues will now head to the County Council, which will hold public hearings on the recommendations in June and issue final votes by September.