Zoning Referendum Proponents Deliver 70,000 Petition Signatures
Group needs nearly 29,000 verified signatures of registered county voters to place zoning issues in the 2nd and 6th Council Districts on the 2014 ballot.
UPDATED (9:03 p.m.)—A developer-backed group that hopes to force two zoning bills to the 2014 ballot has delivered the first installment of signatures to the Baltimore County Board of Elections.
The Committee for Zoning Integrity announced in a statement Friday that it submitted 34,000 signatures for the petition on the 6th district zoning issues and another 36,662 on the 2nd Council District zoning bill to the board of elections, according to an email Friday night from Stuart Kaplow, attorney for the group.
By law, the group needs to collect 28,826 signatures of registered Baltimore County voters for each bill within 45 days of the county executive signing the bills.
The group can extend the deadline by 30 days if it submits at least 9,513 signatures by Monday.
“Baltimore County citizens have embraced our effort, we have achieved this first milestone with little resistance and this achievement represents a significant victory in our program,” Shirley Supik, a community activist and chair of the Committee for Zoning Integrity, Inc., said in a statement. “It is clear that the zoning process in Baltimore County is broken. This is the first step in fixing the way we rezone.”
David S. Brown Enterprises and The Cordish Companies are seeking to overturn bills that rezoned nearby properties that could be redeveloped and ultimately compete with their projects.
The Committee for Zoning Intergrity is backed by developers who are seeking to overturn zoning decisions made by the council last month.
Brown is the developer of Metro Centre at Owings Mills which is near the former Solo Cup plant that is to be redeveloped into a shopping center called Foundry Row. That project would feature a Wegman's grocery store as its anchor.
In Middle River, Cordish is opposing the redevelopment of the Middle River Depot. The depot, if redeveloped, could result in Walmart leaving its current location in the Carroll Island Shopping Center and moving to the new depot location, Cordish said in July.
Cordish owns the Carroll Island Shopping Center.
No county law, much less a zoning bill, has ever been petitioned to referendum in Baltimore County.
The New York-based owner of the Middle River Depot purchased airtime on local radio stations asking county resident not to sign the petition.
Another group calling itself the Don't Sign It! Coalition is also asking residents to not sign the petition.
"This is a real affront to the zoning process," said Ruth Goldstein, a Pikesville community activist who helped organize the coalition said in an interview last week. She added that the process "could afford to be fixed but not by David S. Brown and David Cordish, who are probably the biggest two beneficiaries of it."
If the bills are successfully placed on the ballot, voters across the county would be asked to vote to approve or reject the bills which affect a number of properties in the 2nd and 6th Council Districts.
Supik, in her statement Friday, said the Committee for Zoning Integrity will continue for a few more days to buttress the filing and in anticipation of challenges to ensure extra signatures."
Editor's note: This story was updated to correct an error on the number of signatures sent to the board of elections. The original number used was contained in a statement emailed by the Committee for Zoning Integrity.