Thursday, April 9, 2015

County tries to appease Towson residents with special open space funding

As previously noted in this column, Towson residents gave the County Planning Board recently an earful about the fact that Towson Development is usually exempted from the open space requirements or from paying the standard open space fees that should go in effect where developers can't build the space themselves.

In a surprise move the administration issued a press release yesterday, announcing $4 million to be spent specifically on Towson open space improvements.

 "Utilizing generous contributions from the Baltimore Ravens, Caves Valley Partners, the Towson Recreation Council and Towsontowne Recreation Council, the County will be able to fund two new turf fields. The County also intends to repurpose the existing concrete Patriot Plaza in front of the County Courts Building into an attractive passive park, complementing the renowned Historic Courthouse Gardens. Up to $800,000 in private funding would supplement $3.2 million of County funds, for a total of $4 million for improved open space needs." (County Press release)

New Towson Courthouse and Patriot's Plaza in front of it
It remains to be seen if the move will be able to influence current discussions about the "waiver fee" structure, i.e. the schedule of fees that are set as payments in lieu of actual open space, a matter that the County Council will have to take up after the Planning Board concluded its deliberations on the matter without taking a clear position.

Currently town center districts, revitalization zones, dormitories and many Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are exempted, a situation that administrative law judge John Beverungen recently took issue with in a finding about the 101 York Road student housing project in which he noted that the dormitory exemption is based on a over a decade old Council resolution which he deemed not valid anymore.

Towson open spaces in front of the old and new court houses.
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

County Press release
Greater Towson Council Open Space Testimony for Planning Board

The author is president of the board of Neighborspace, a urban land trust created to protect open spaces in urbanized areas in Baltimore County through purchase or easements.
The non profit organization is largely funded through County payments which, in part, come from waiver fees. 
From GTCCA testimony

No comments:

Post a Comment