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Baltimore County zoning opponents say they have 170,000 signatures

Efforts to petition two controversial Baltimore County zoning maps to a referendum in November 2014 have resulted in 170,000 voter signatures, officials said Friday.

In the meantime, representatives for a local developer who obtained new zoning this summer to build a Wegmans in Owings Mills sent a letter to the Baltimore County Board of Elections Friday asking board members to reject the petitions submitted earlier this fall.

Those petitions contained 86,000 signatures, and Towson attorney Michael Paul Smith’s letter said they were obtained fraudulently and by using incomplete information. The county board of elections is in the process of verifying those signatures, a task that could be voided if the board accepts the request of Smith, who represents Greenberg Gibbons, developer of the proposed Foundry Row.

Smith’s letter said the petition signatures attained earlier this fall were obtained in methods that violate county law. But representatives for the groups opposed to the development, the Committee for Zoning Integrity and the Committee for Zoning Transparency Inc., have disagreed.

On Friday, an additional 83,435 signatures were filed in the efforts to have the Aug. 28 vote by the County Council on the 2nd and 6th District zoning maps placed before county voters on a referendum in two years.

“We have successfully completed the signature gathering phase, with citizen interest in fixing the rezoning process in Baltimore County far exceeding our expectations,” said attorney Stuart Kaplow, who represents the Committee for Zoning Integrity.

County law states that the committee needed to gather a total of 28,825 signatures per district in order to place the questions on the ballot.

The validation process is expected to last into 2013.

The petition drive is the latest salvo in a dispute over two planned developments in the county. One, in Owings Mills, would result in Foundry Row, a mixed-use project on Reisterstown Road at the site of the former Solo Cup plant. Greenberg Gibbons plans to build a Wegmans there, along with other retail and restaurants and office space.

The other development is on the county’s eastern side in Middle River near the Martin State Airport. A Walmart has been mentioned as a possible anchor for a new mixed-use development, and developer David Cordish, who owns a shopping center nearby with a smaller Walmart in it, is fighting the rezoning.