After developer fails to post notice, 25th St. Station meeting rescheduled

Wal-Mart-anchored project runs into timeline trouble

The Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals had been scheduled Tuesday to consider a request by the developer of 25th Street Station for an extension of the deadline for submitting a detailed time schedule for the project.

But during the past few days, residents who live near the proposed North Baltimore shopping center peppered BMZA executive director David C. Tanner with emails asking why notice of the meeting had not been posted at the site, as required by city charter, 21 days before the meeting.

Today, Tanner told The Brew that the matter will now be heard a month later – at the March 25th meeting – and that the proper notice will be posted.

“We are not in agreement that it is necessary for this on-going matter, but the developer has agreed voluntarily to comply and to post this,” Tanner told The Brew by phone.

Some matters to be discussed on Mar. 11

Attorney Jon M. Laria, who represents the development team, had been furious at the November Planning Commission meeting, when a lawyer representing the Remington Neighborhood Alliance rose to say the developers had missed the deadline in 2012.

If that were the case, attorney J. Carroll Holzer had argued, the Planning Commission’s approval at that meeting of the Planned Unit Development for the project would be invalid.

Laria had disagreed about having missed the deadline, but since then has submitted a written request to the Board to grant an extension.

Tanner said the BMZA had also been scheduled on Tuesday to discuss other matters involving the 25th St. Station project.

Residents have appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to approve design revisions to the project’s Planned Unit Development as a “minor amendment.”  They have also objected to the Planning Department’s handling of subdivision plan filings.

“The Board has to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction over these actions,” Tanner said, noting that the question now will be taken up at the BMZA’s Mar. 11 meeting.

UPDATED with this from Jon Laria:

“We were really disappointed by the mischaracterizations in your 2/19 piece. It’s just factually wrong to say “After developer fails to post…”. We were never advised of a February 25 hearing date so there was no “failure” to do anything. While we don’t agree that posting is required under the law for this type of BMZA action, we nonetheless volunteered to post the property because we have come to expect the ultra-litigious in the community to raise this and any other issue they can think of to obstruct progress without regard to merits. So, we pre-emptively agreed to post 21 days in advance of the Board’s hearing, as if this were a conventional zoning appeal, and that necessarily takes us to the March 25 hearing.

Perhaps those who have filed a negative appeal to the BMZA should be required to post the property at their expense, so the hundreds of community members who support the project and greater City shopping options would have adequate notice of these ongoing obstructionist actions by their neighbors?”


Be sure to check our full comment policy before leaving a comment.

  • ushanellore

    God, seems like the Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals has already struck a deal. The community be damned, the developer be blessed and all’s well that ends well for the BMZA and Wal Mart. Tanner carries the banner for flouting the city charter and the city taxpayers pay him? Come on!

  • Lizzie 58

    Mr. Tanner’s BMZA is being sued by the Hamilton/Harford Road coalition to stop a mega Royal Farms’ gas station. This lawsuit addresses that BMZA staff did a rewording change on a commission ruling after an ex-parte phone call with Royal Farms’s lawyer. The Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge was almost amazed that there seemed to be no defined legal process at BMZA

    The developer of the Walmart will win here because the Mayor wants this. All the developer had to do was post the sign and follow the law. But no, their lawyers look for ways to bend the rules and make a mockery of BMZA. Well, the developer has another month to wait as a result. Perhaps, the developer should find better lawyers.

  • Tony Bot

    I was at the November planning commission meeting. The board members were not interested in following the zoning laws as it is printed for what is considered a major amendment…. It was clear to me and others that they were not really there to listen to the community, only to rush through the minor amendment that took an hour to explain…. they are in Wal-Mart’s pocket like a kangaroo in its mama’s pouch….

  • BmoreFree

    In a contest of bureaucratic incompetence I don’t know if the BMZA or the Baltimore Liquor Board would win. The rules are written down, the least you could do is follow them.

    • ushanellore

      The rules are written down so you know what rules not to follow.

  • Dbaums

    Unfortunately, this is how many zoning appeal boards throughout the state are run. Developers usually have the upper hand and boards usually rubber stamp their requests unless community groups step up to the plate. That’s why attorneys like Mr. Holzer are so important (but there’s only a handful in the state that do that type of work).

  • James Hunt

    Combox compadres: You really need to stop letting Wal Mart live rent free in your heads. Their power is becoming almost mythical. They’re your Keyser Söze

    • ushanellore

      They are not Keyser Soze
      they are Kaiser Wilhelm Walmart Soze–
      the biggest and the baddest of the
      box retailers– not living rent free in our heads
      but living pro bono on your propaganda
      that their GDP bigger than that of Kenya or Uganda
      spent to ward off bucolic green
      and usher in a black top sheen,
      is actually good for human beings,
      because “It’s about jobs honey,
      it’s about ready made goods for less money,
      it’s about convenience and availability,
      it’s about fight ’em if you dare,
      fight ’em fair and square,
      if you can’t (who can?)
      put your arrows in your quiver,
      and let them pull the lever.”

      I say– their power to provide
      is just as mythical in your head
      as their power to destroy is mythical
      in the heads of the rest
      of the brainwashed.

  • Old Goucher watchdog

    you know, this developer could have saved a lot of time and trouble if they had only given us an urban design as we requested and deserved, like they did in D.C. Instead we have a surburban model, with a nearly 4 acre parking lot front and center. And UDARP caved….guess the fix was in there too. It’s not a matter of money, walmart can certainly afford it…..they just didn’t think old Baltimore deserved it. I feel disrespected!

  • Lizzie 58

    So, if we believe Jon Laria, BMZA did not even advise the developer about the February 25th hearing. BMZA was going to have a meeting with no developer, no sign posting, no community and do what? Talk among themselves? It feels like someone in the City Law Department, who had not lost all their marbles, stepped in here and said postpone.

    Jon Laria, a real estate lawyer for the developer, seems to have forgotten his constitutional law. No where in our system of government are the citizens holding a minority opinion required to help out those in the majority. We may not like the people who hold opposing opinions, but we may not silence them in the name of economic development, or even in the name of Ballard Spahr earning its hefty legal fees.

    The issue with BMZA and the Planning Commission s that there are laws, processes, and procedures, which should be followed religiously, especially when there is opposition They should not be shortchanged because politically connected developers say that the City needs retail; need money; need development, etc.

    • Old Goucher watchdog

      thank you Lizzie 58 for so clearly stating all that is so wrongfully wrong! I chuckled out loud at your first paragraph….it would be even funnier if it weren’t so pathetically true

  • Jeff

    Who wants Wal-Mart anyway? They treat their employees like crap!

  • cwals99

    I would like to thank this strong group of community members willing to put the time and energy to fight what will indeed be a bad development policy for this area. It takes this level of commitment to fight City Hall which is Baltimore Development because they makes these plans years in advance with the intent to drive it through no matter the public comment.

    Running and electing candidates that are people friendly in the Mayor’s and City Hall election is critical. I hope that these community activists become the City Council person needed to protect city development and make sure all citizens are included!

  • cwals99

    You see a community that has been the strongest activist group for their community yet. We thank these committed community activists for shouting out against what will be a horrible corporate big box blow to the community. This group has been after this for years and each time City Hall moves with WalMart in making this development work.

    Small businesses will be killed and choice gone with these development decisions. Baltimore development is completely geared to big business and they write the public policy. WE THE PEOPLE NEED TO BE SURE THAT THE NEXT ELECTION FOR MAYOR AND CITY HALL IS ABOUT RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE AND SHAKE THESE NEO-LIBERALS OUT OF THE RUG!

  • David

    I’m writing about the 25th St station
    development. I thought when Lowes pulled out this project was dead. But, I find that the battle by the developers
    continues behind the scenes. I am very dismayed by this project. There are so many intertwined issues here
    that need
    to be addressed.

    First of all, I’m not against development. In fact,
    I’m all for development, but it is the kind of development that is the
    question. I’d like to see our neighborhood grow into one with well-kept homes,
    shops, cafes, restaurants, and entertainment that make this a desirable place
    to live. Big box stores don’t do that. They are for the outer suburbs.

    The 25th st development has numerous problems, but
    problems which might be fixable.

    First, there really are two development projects.
    The block with the Anderson GM dealership and Gieco, let’s call that the east
    project, and the large tract with the Honda used car dealership, let’s call that
    the west project. These two tracts need to be considered separately. If I
    recall correctly they were originally separate, but some action was allowed by
    the city to consider them as one. This needs to be reversed and these need to
    be considered as separate projects! The east project can be allowed to go
    forward, while the west one is challenged. This should placate the
    developer and the city, and show that the community is showing good faith and
    is not against development per se.

    The east project is probably a good idea if the
    right mix of shops, residences, and most importantly, parking can be found. I
    think that the original plan had only national chain stores listed as potential
    tenants. I think it would be useful to open the spaces up to any local
    businesses who are interested as well. And, if any tax breaks are being
    offered, that they be made available to local businesses as well as the
    national chains. Indeed, local businesses are more in need of financing support
    than the national chains which have large budgets for expansion projects.

    The west project is the real issue here. There
    are many problems with the current plan. Most importantly, the scale and nature
    of the project are inappropriate for a city neighborhood. This project is of
    the massive scale that is designed for outer suburbs and just does not fit into
    the city. In particular is the plan for almost 500 parking spots is way too big
    for a city neighborhood where walking and buses are a big part of the
    transportation mix. More cars should not be encouraged to enter the
    neighborhood. This is far too many parking spots for a city site as the
    associated auto traffic this would generate would be unbearable as the traffic
    jams on evenings and weekends would be endless. This would also pose a
    significant danger to pedestrians who would like to patronize stores in this
    area. At most, a number of parking spots similar to that of one of the local
    supermarkets should be allowed. Also, the original study that claimed that most
    traffic that came from Rt 83 would use the North St exit and come up Howard is
    not credible. Most people would be cutting through the Remington neighborhood
    to the 28th and 29th St entrance/exits. So, a large influx of shoppers from
    outside the local area would be tying up streets all around the area. By
    addressing this issue, the developer implicitly acknowledged that much or most
    of the traffic would come from the Rt 83, rather than the local neighborhoods.

    The problems with Walmart are well documented
    elsewhere so I will not recount them here, other than to say that Walmart would
    be a detriment to the area. Walmart is associated with: increased crime,
    low wage jobs that burden the city, driving out local businesses, and
    dissuading better quality merchants from locating nearby. Indeed, would
    this neighborhood survive the arrival of Walmart? Or would all the progress of
    the last 10 years be undone? I’ve already heard talk of those who don’t want to
    live near a Walmart moving out.

    But we do need some more shopping in the area. I
    was so hoping that Lowes would move in. I trek out to the Home Depots and Lowes
    on Perring Pkwy almost every weekend. Making a 45 min to 1 hr round trip for
    some item or another is a real hassle and waste of time. I do go to the Waverly
    Ace whenever I can, but their selection is limited and I often need items from
    the larger stores. Can we get Lowes to reconsider? Some other ideas for stores
    on that site: Target, yeah I know there is one in Mondawmin, but maybe they
    would like to move here instead? Trader Joe’s, would be a nice addition. If a
    big box is really needed, then how about asking Costco to come? The pay their
    employees well and are far more responsive to the community than Walmart.

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

  • December 15, 2014

    •   “Ha ha, so not a surprise.” “Shocking…not!!” We get applause but also the occasional eye-roll these days for our accountability reporting – like last week’s piece about how tax cuts promised by the mayor as a selling point for Horseshoe Baltimore probably won’t happen, thanks to the casino’s lower-than-expected revenues. We get where the […]