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Timonium condo plan has residents upset

From the road, the wooded lot looks like most undeveloped suburban parcels.

But a Catonsville developer’s plan to convert the 10.2-acre lot just north of Timonium into a 64-unit, age-restricted condominium community has stirred a string of protests around the peaceful setting of thickets and evergreens.

“Everybody was caught by surprise by this thing,” said Helen Delich Bentley, a former congresswoman and member of the Federal Maritime Commission, who lives nearby in a 5,700-square-foot, $1.1 million house.

Bentley and some of the residents who live in other upscale houses near the site, located at Pot Spring and Old Bosley roads, are seeking answers about the proposed Valley Overlook development from Jeff Kirby, owner of J. Kirby Development.

Kirby said he plans to meet with the residents.

“They are a little upset about the way they found out and probably perceived we are doing something we are not doing,” he said. “It’s residents wanting to know what the plan is so they can know what to do. They haven’t seen the plan, and I want to show them it is not going to have the kind of impact” they think.

Kirby said much of the property will remain wooded, and the 64 condo units will be located in four, four-story buildings. Units will be offered beginning at $300,000.

A resolution to create a planned unit development, or PUD, for the condos for residents age 55 and older is scheduled to be considered by the Baltimore County Council at a work session Tuesday in Towson. The council is expected to vote on the PUD at its meeting Nov. 15.

Last month, the residents successfully protested the move at another work session, and the resolution’s sponsor, outgoing Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, tabled the plan for further discussion.

McIntire said that the need for high-quality housing options for members of the baby boomer generation prompted him to propose the resolution for the PUD in his district. A similar development is under construction in Catonsville, also by Kirby, called Patapsco Overlook.

“This is quality housing for people age 55 and over,” McIntire said. “But these people [the residents nearby] don’t want it. They said it is because of the density and the traffic. It’s a NIMBY thing,” he added, noting the “not in my back yard” argument often used against developers.

Bentley, 86, agreed it is a NIMBY issue. But she also said the group is concerned that the parcel where Valley Overlook is planned for is currently zoned for just 13 units.

“The traffic up there is very heavy right now,” she said.

McIntire, a Republican who served 16 years on the County Council, was defeated in the primary election by Todd Huff, who won his Third District council seat Tuesday with nearly 65 percent of the vote.

During his tenure, McIntire has made a mark as an aggressive advocate for land preservation in much of the county’s rural northern corridor, where restrictive zoning limits development. He was recently honored by a group of residents who live along the rural part of the Falls Road corridor for that work.

“We’re not talking about farm country,” he said, of the development dispute in Timonium. “There is high-density housing nearby. And there are expensive houses [nearby] that sit up on a knoll.”

In the final month of his tenure on the council, he added, the controversy has left him contemplative.

“I’m rethinking it,” McIntire said, of the resolution. “I don’t really need this problem at this juncture.”