Community offers input on Seagram’s development plan
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 12:49

Chris Mudd, an attorney for Venable LLP, explained the PUD process during a public meeting on the Seagram’s property development last week. photo by Nicole Rodman

by Nicole Rodman

    Local developer John Vontran unveiled plans for Brewery Station, a proposed 194-unit townhouse community, during a public meeting at the North Point Library last Thursday.
    The homes would be built on the former Seagram’s Distillery property, which Vontran has owned since 2008.
    The meeting was one of the first steps in the PUD (planned unit development) process that Vontran is undertaking in order to gain county approval for the project.
    Approximately 75 people attended the meeting, voicing both concerns over and support for the project.
    The main concern was over the proposed density of the community.
    In the concept plan, there would be 194 homes on 13 acres. Each home would be 16 to 20 feet wide.
    Critics called the homes too narrow, claiming that the plan packs too many houses onto the property.
    They also noted that the plan calls for more homes than current zoning allows.
    Speaking with The Eagle on Monday, Vontran said that the property is currently zoned for 148 homes. However, he noted that zoned density can be increased as part of the PUD process.
    He also noted that the plan adheres to county regulations.
    Vontran pointed out that the homes are intended to be “starter homes,” marketed to young couples just starting families.
    Critics also voiced concerns over a perceived lack of green space in the plan.
    The current plan includes 2/3 of an acre of green space, including a common area and a “tot lot.”
    For his part, Vontran noted that the plan is being revised in response to the input.
    “We’re in the process of making some changes in the plan now to make sure the community has enough green space,” he said.
    Other concerns included what critics called a lack of on-street parking in the plan.
    Community members claimed that there would not be enough parking for visitors, especially on holidays.
    Each home in the development would include a one- or two-car attached garage as well as a parking pad in the rear.
    There would also be 84 parallel and 45 perpendicular parking spaces on the street.
    “We’re complying with the county,” Vontran said, noting that the amount of parking is in line with county regulations.
    Vontran also addressed public concerns over the stormwater management plan for the site.
    “There is no issue with the way water is running off the property now,” he said, noting that the property is currently 80 percent asphalt and concrete.
    “It will only get better,” he said, noting that more green space, including rain gardens, will be added.
    Residents were also assured that the development will include a homeowners association that will likely prohibit homeowners from renting out their homes, either to Section 8 voucher holders or others.
    While concerns were raised over the plan, many, including North Point Village Civic Association president Dave Patro, voiced support for the project.
    With the first public meeting concluded, Vontran and his team will receive  county input and revise their plan before presenting an updated plan at a second public meeting.
    Residents still hoping to make their voices heard may forward concerns to Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. by phone at  410-887-7174 or 410-887-3383 or via email at council7@baltimorecountymd.gov.
    Despite the concerns raised regarding the development of the now-dilapidated former distillery, one sentiment — voiced most clearly by an unidentified woman — seemed to reign at last week’s meeting.
    “However it turns out, it has to be better than what we’ve got.”