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NOW YOU KNOW: Our eyes on NE Baltimore County

The following is an op-ed piece from Delegates Kathy Szeliga and Ryan Nawrocki.

As residents and representatives of Baltimore County, we were excited to hear about the opening of a second location of a popular restaurant, The Local, at The Avenue at White Marsh. This farm-to-table restaurant is a gem in Harford County and will be a great addition to our area. Another welcome improvement is the announcement of nearly 10 miles of road resurfacing planned to begin this summer and conclude next spring. Neighborhoods impacted will be in areas of Seven Courts Drive, Joppa Road, and Central Perry Hall. Also, we were pleased that the upgraded traffic signal at MD 43 and Honeygo Blvd. was activated in June. The crews finally removed barriers and opened new turn lanes for the $4.4 million project to improve safety and access to White Marsh businesses and the Maryland Transit Administration’s Park and Ride lot at the intersection’s southwest corner.

You should also know about an upcoming project in White Marsh that has brought concern. While White Marsh Mall and The Avenue at White Marsh do not physically reside in our district, they are the closest shopping and entertainment facilities to many of our constituents who frequent them often. We had previously brought to your attention our concerns about the 500+ apartments proposed to replace the former Sears building at White Marsh Mall. In addition to this project, another massive proposal is being considered to replace the TGI Fridays and Pier 1 Imports at The Avenue. Developers are proposing building an additional 200+ apartments there! This comes on the heels of a new apartment complex behind the White Marsh Library that offers 300+ units and over 800 houses being built between Perry Hall Boulevard and Honeygo Boulevard.

We thank Councilman Marks for assembling a task force to look at White Marsh’s future under the direction of Chairman Pat Keller. Their community survey was very successful, and we would like to see the hundreds of comments from local residents included in the future decision-making of this area. During a November 2022 public meeting regardings the former Sears property, residents complained about a lack of community input. We expect that the work of the local task force will be used to craft a plan for reinvestment, development, and design standards in the Town Center.

We wish to ensure that any new growth has community input and reflects sound planning principles that enhance the White Marsh Town Center. There will be a Community Input Meeting for one of the projects on Tuesday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at the Community Christian Church, 8009 Corporate Drive. We encourage you to attend.

We are not opposed to development as a blanket statement; instead, we oppose unplanned growth. This past February, we wrote a letter to the County Executive asking for an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to determine if the community can sustain another apartment complex. Countless constituents continue to express serious concerns about the unplanned development in the White Marsh, Perry Hall, Middle River, and surrounding areas, which have boomed over the past 20 years. We are unsure if these projects are prudent with concerns of school overcrowding, exceptionally long emergency room wait times, and a failing wastewater treatment plant. The Baltimore County police force is short more than two hundred officers, and our first responders are also stressed.

We hope you can attend the Community Input Meeting on Tuesday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at the Community Christian Church, 8009 Corporate Drive, to learn about the future of our community.

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