Business, Opinion, Politics

Councilman Marks: more senior housing, less traditional development

The following is an op-ed piece from Councilman David Marks:

Today, more than 25 percent of Baltimore County’s population is estimated to include senior citizens. Put another way, there are more seniors than school-age children. The growth of our senior population is occurring throughout the United States, but especially in Baltimore County.

Our housing, unfortunately, does not reflect that dynamic. We have too few options for seniors who want either apartment-style living, or low-level villas. I hear from seniors all the time who feel are forced to move to Harford County or other jurisdictions, leaving their children and grandchildren behind.

Senior housing not only provides for a growing part of our population, but it has no impact on our overcrowded schools.

For those reasons, I have urged developers to focus on senior communities instead of traditional housing. In Perry Hall, most of the units approved during my ten years on the Baltimore County Council have been in senior housing, including the Brightview Perry Hall and Chapel Springs developments.

There are now two proposed senior projects that could have easily been traditional housing. One is at Belair and Forge Roads, where the developer has proposed replacing a big-box parcel with a small senior community. Another is at the Gerst Farm, where 70 percent of the latest proposed development will include low-level senior villas. Originally, the developer wanted a much larger project with no age-restricted housing.

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Other amenities and services are important for this population. In Towson, for instance, we are creating a circulator to improve mobility for all residents—including seniors—and upgrades are occurring to the Seven Oaks Senior Center to accommodate this growing location.

I will continue to push for more services and communities to accommodate this growing population.

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