Lutherville Station redevelopment represents necessary regional growth

Amid opposition to the proposed Lutherville Station redevelopment from some nearby homeowners, I would encourage individuals who live in the area, less than 5 miles away from a large U.S. city, to closely consider the broader historical and geographic context of what exactly they have bought into. As far back as 1967, Baltimore County had the environmental sustainability foresight to establish an Urban-Rural Demarcation Line to “maximize the efficiency of County revenues on infrastructure in urban areas and preserve important natural and agricultural resources in rural areas.”

Fifty-six years later, the Lutherville Station site is next to a rail transit stop, in a county with an urban-rural demarcation line (URDL), a few miles away from Baltimore — a key Northeast Corridor city that seeks growth, in part through expanded infrastructure investments, including a more robust metropolitan-area transit system.

The fact that Baltimore County has the URDL means that over time, growth will have to be located closer to all current residents. And while some of us like to make trivial distinctions between urban and suburban, the fact remains that Greater Baltimore is an overall urban metropolitan area that is growing. Concerns about school crowding might be valid and county government should plan for the provision of educational facilities in line with projected growth. However, the mindset of “no apartments, no compromise” is that of those who are frozen in time and cannot understand the future. Economically competitive cities the world over have moved away from automobile-centric mobility infrastructure and land use. That said, residents who do not favor growth, density and walkability should not live in a municipality with an URDL, in such proximity to a major U.S. city. Instead, they should consider moving farther out into more exurban or rural areas.

Jeenly Louis, Baltimore

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Lutherville-Timonium redevelopment needs to include affordable housing

A Lutherville-Timonium redevelopment and transit spur plan should include development of affordable housing, a reader said. (Courtesy of Maryland Transit Administration,)

Regarding the Lutherville-Timonium redevelopment transit spur, the Greater Timonium Community Council must recognize the overriding need for affordable housing in Baltimore County, along with retail and office space.

Multi-use, dense development near single-family housing and transit accommodates those who work in cities and is the projected plan nationwide. Moderately priced apartments would occupy vacated land from a closed shopping center and blend with the architecture of the neighborhood. Klaus Philipsen of ArchPlan Inc. claims the opposition to building lower cost apartments is the projected change in racial and ethnic composition in a primarily white neighborhood. Residence close to jobs and transit, which benefits everyone, cannot be denied to lower-income people, including those who are minorities. Limiting travel distance also reduces impacts on climate change.

Light rail access in Baltimore County aligns with the climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by limiting cars and trucks on the road. Gov. Wes Moore proclaims the importance of transit for accessing jobs, shopping, medical appointments, entertainment and promoting equity for less-affluent Baltimore residents who rely on it. The government-subsidized MARC commuter rail line permitted affordable access to a federal job for me.

Baltimore needs a total transformation to thrive both economically and socially, which includes reliable transit accompanied by affordable housing. We need to accept more compact living in an increasing diverse world while leaving a greater percentage of rural land to wildlife.

Gail B. Landy, Gaithersburg

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Baltimore parklets raise financial, safety concerns

The Department of Transportation expanded its outdoor dining program in 2020 to include parklets—street parking spaces converted into outdoor dining areas—in an effort to encourage social distancing and provide a boost to the restaurant industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, they've grown in popularity.
Parklets provided for outdoor dining in Baltimore raise financial, safety and environmental concerns, a reader said. (Courtesy of WJZ)

Hooray for the letter to The Baltimore Banner questioning, among other things, the financial wisdom of parklets used for outdoor dining, particularly along Thames Street in Fells Point.

Ditto on the concern that those parklets are right next to a Federal Emergency Management Agency-designated flood plain and in a FEMA “area of flood hazard’ but will not be bolted down. Their safety is clearly a concern, as they could become floating battering rams. Will insurers cover that?

Also concerning is that there seems to have been little or no verified input from the Fells Point residential community at large prior to deciding to go ahead with the parklets. That would also apply to the city at large, as evidenced by the city transportation department’s first public comment period getting barely over a thousand replies. That’s in a city of over half a million residents on a subject of great community importance.

I think it’s time to pause, take a deep breath and not rush headlong into any shaky way forward.

David Johnson, Baltimore

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