As first reported in Patch, a legal settlement has been reached in a dispute over possible contamination by the Hess gasoline station on Joppa Road. The settlement between Hess and nearby residents calls for the demolition of 16 homes along Yakona Road. The demolition of these structures will create a new, four-acre open space which may be owned by NeighborSpace of Baltimore County, a land preservation trust.
This issue predates my service on the Baltimore County Council. When I learned about the settlement a few weeks ago, I quietly turned to several longtime community leaders who knew about the history of this problem. My predecessor Wayne Skinner distinctly remembers walking the area with a resident more than ten years ago.
There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered, including the future of the open space. I have been a strong supporter of Baltimore County NeighborSpace and am urging that organization to seize the opportunity to acquire this property. I have already reached out to the state legislators from this area and will work with them to promote any public meetings.
My hope is that this settlement becomes the catalyst for improvements in this neighborhood. While the homes along Yakona Road were built about the same time as nearby homes along Doxbury Road and Pleasant Plains Road, the Yakona Road area doesn't have the same degree of neighborhood stability. It's been neglected, and it shows.
My friend Donna Spicer, a longtime community activist, tells me that this region was once part of Baynesville. That name has largely disappeared from the maps, but maybe it's time to form a Baynesville Community Association. When NeighborSpace acquired a property in western Baltimore County, it worked with residents to actually start a neighborhood association. I also want to look at improving the overall look of Joppa Road and possibly put this area under the approval of the Design Review Panel so there is better architectural design for new businesses.
Since my election to the County Council, I have wanted to help this long-neglected part of Baltimore County. The Hess settlement may offer a new opportunity.