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Judge releases Baltimore Co. zoning petition signatures

A list of about 86,000 signatures gathered as part of a petition drive to potentially overturn two new zoning maps in Baltimore County was ordered released Wednesday by a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge.

Greenberg Gibbons, which plans to redevelop the former Solo Cup site on Reisterstown Road, has hired a private company to vet about 86,000 petition signatures.

A temporary restraining order issued on the county’s Board of Elections Oct. 25 by Judge Kathleen Cox was lifted after an hour-long hearing in Towson.

That means the petitions will be released to a group that has plans to develop a shopping center anchored by Wegmans at the former Solo Cup site on Reisterstown Road. The petitions will be vetted for accuracy by private sources hired by the group, said Michael Paul Smith, an attorney for the developer, Greenberg Gibbons.

“We’re pleased that the court denied their efforts to suppress,” the signatures, Smith said Wednesday. “This ruling allows the opponents to investigate these reports and make available the names of who are collecting people’s personal information.”

Stuart Kaplow, an attorney for the Committee for Zoning Integrity Inc., which collected the signatures and turned them into county elections officials last month for verification, said he was “disappointed” with the ruling Wednesday.

He said committee officials had gained more than 125,000 petition signatures to date, and that he was confident they would stand the county board of elections’ verification process, now underway through mid-January 2013.

“This action had little if anything to do with the verification process,” Kaplow said, of the latest hearing. “This had to do with the ability to collect signatures … to be verified.”

Owings Mills developer Howard Brown and Baltimore developer David Cordish have joined forces to protest an Aug. 28 vote by the Baltimore County Council for new zoning maps.

Those maps include new zoning classifications for properties that are near two of their holdings — Metro Centre in Owings Mills, which is being developed by Brown, and a Walmart-anchored shopping center in Middle River that is owned by The Cordish Cos.

Foundry Row, the proposed development at the Solo Cup site, would compete with Metro Centre, while the development in Middle River near Martin State Airport, where Walmart could locate a new SuperCenter, would compete with Cordish’s property.

To combat the efforts, Brown and Cordish initiated the petition drive to move the zoning maps to a November 2014 referendum. They imported petition workers from out of state to help garner signatures in public places in the county last month.

On the other hand, Greenberg Gibbons President Brian Greenberg hired another group of out-of-state petition experts to try to block the signature efforts. Brown has complained that the proposed Foundry Row development would create traffic nightmares on Reisterstown Road and an oversaturation of retail in the area.

Smith said the feud was a fight brought on by a “group of developers who are attempting to hijack the Baltimore County zoning map process for their own gain.”