Open Space in Towson Hits A Snag On The Council | WYPR

Open Space in Towson Hits A Snag On The Council

Oct 23, 2015
Originally published on October 22, 2015 12:09 pm

  The Baltimore County Council has put off for at least two weeks a vote on whether to make developers in Towson pay more money if their projects don’t provide enough open space. The move came during Monday’s council meeting. 

The sticking point is how much developers who already have projects on the books should have to pony up.

About 15 years ago, Baltimore County all but waived open space fees for developers who wanted to build in Towson. The idea then was to entice developers to build there. Now, Towson is booming and that’s no longer a problem. Residents say the problem now is that Towson is being paved over with projects.

So Councilman David Marks wants developers to buy in on providing money for things like trails, parks and playing fields.

"The law really is intended to ask people to provide open space internal with their projects," Marks says. "When they can’t do that, they pay the fee, and that’s what we are addressing with the legislation."

Marks says under his legislation, there would be a 1,300 percent increase in how much five current or planned projects would pay in open space fees. For instance, the massive $350 million Towson Row project would pay $470,000 in open space fees. Projects like Towson Row that are already in the pipeline would pay a portion of the fee, not the full amount.

But Arthur Adler, the managing partner with Caves Valley Partners, which is developing Towson Row, counters that it’s not fair to change the rules in the middle of the game.

"We’ve abided by the rules," Adler says. "The rules say we pay x, we’re paying x, in fact we’ve paid four times x voluntarily." Adler says.

Towson Row has donated an extra $200,000 to help pay for turf fields at the Carver Center for Arts and Technology and Towson High School.