MALL-SIZED DEVELOPMENT: The proposed Solo Cup redevelopment at Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill will take up more much acreage than the entire Owings Mills Mall.
TRAFFIC STUDIES NOT COMPLETE: Improving the traffic congestion we have today in Owings Mills is going to take a significant amount of taxpayer money – a fix the state estimates could take until 2017 to complete. Add to this a mall-sized, retail development at the Solo Cup site by 2014, and we have a disaster in waiting. The State Highway Administration is conducting a study of the Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill intersection that will take two years to complete. The General Assembly has directed state officials to complete a traffic study along the entire Reisterstown Road corridor which will not be complete before the end of the year.
MILLIONS OF TAX DOLLARS: Five years ago, state officials estimated that it would cost $45 million or more to fix the current traffic mess on Reisterstown Road. Projections have not yet been made for the significant increase in cost that will occur with a mall-sized retail center at Solo Cup. Developers have pledged to spend $7 million for improvements to their site only. There is currently no state or county funding allocated.
BAD PLANNING: Plans submitted to the SHA by Solo Cup developers included the option of a new signal at St Thomas Lane that would encourage traffic through the Valley. Their proposed widening of Reisterstown Road will not increase capacity north of Painters Mill or south of Garrison View to alleviate projected immediate and long term traffic increase on Reisterstown Road traffic.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: According to recent communication from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Baltimore County Dept. of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, the Solo Cup site is “under active enforcement by the MDE.” This means there is contamination at the site. Though a remedy is likely, it will take some time before the full impact and remediation requirements are determined.
DEVELOPERS OVER CONSTITUENTS? Our County Councilwoman put her stamp of approval on this project from Day One, before any public hearings or studies of the traffic, economic and environmental impact on local communities and businesses. The Baltimore County Council seems poised to follow her lead through a process called Councilmanic Courtesy. This would leave a zoning decision that impacts all of Baltimore County and costs millions of dollars in the hands of one Councilperson who never bothered to wait for even one study before publicly announcing her support for the project. Meanwhile, former County Executive Jim Smith and his law firm, who represent the Solo Cup developer, have given more than $174,000 to County Council candidates in the 2010 elections. As a result, this firm holds so much influence over County zoning decisions that the process is now nearly void of any meaningful public input or process.
WEGMANS: It would be great to have a Wegmans in the area, but not at Reisterstown Road and Painters Mill. Wegmans has identified this area as being the right demographic fit for their brand and they will find a spot that works for them if Foundry Row doesn’t happen. In fact, ten years ago Wegmans planned to open shop at Texas Station in Timonium. When the County Councilman who represented the area stood up for the interests of his communities, Wegmans shifted to Hunt Valley, even after they said that Texas Station was absolutely the ONLY place that would work for them in the county.
NO REDEVELOPMENT AT OWINGS MILLS MALL: Large and small retailers who were originally interested in the Owings Mills Mall are now holding back commitments pending the council’s decision on rezoning the Solo Cup site to allow the development of Wegmans and thousands of additional square feet of retail. After a retail market analysis that shows there is not enough demand for both the Mall and Foundry Row to move forward, they fear that market conditions will worsen, making the mall an unattractive site. The end result: no redevelopment of the mall.
Click here to ask the Baltimore County Council to get the facts before they make decisions on important zoning issues.
Fix Reisterstown Road. Then decide on Solo Cup.