Newspaper logo  
   Fate of Northern District Police Station Not Clear


Fate of Northern District Police Station Not Clear

by Lynda Lambert

Can an already-approved Planned Unit Development be substantially changed without further community input? Hampden and Wyman Park neighbors seek answers.

Close to 300 people crowded into the community room at Keswick Nursing Home on Thursday, June 29, waiting to hear if rumors about changes to the planned unit development (PUD) for historic Northern District were true or false.

Wendy Blair, an owner of Keyser Development, which won the rights to develop the site in a competitive process, stepped to the podium and apologized for the “misinformation” the community may have heard. She said that no changes had been made to the proposal since the PUD (Planned Unit Development) for the former police station had been presented and approved.

She declined, however, to state that no changes would be made in the future, although several questioners tried to get her to do so.

Blair did say that Keyser had been approached about the site by Baltimore Lab School, currently on Roland Avenue, but that there were no plans “at this time” to rent space to the school.

Blair also noted that their anchor tenant, Heritage Bank, had pulled out of the project, taking with it major funding, and said that was why they were looking for a replacement anchor tenant.

Blair, and later Stanley Keyser, another owner of the development company who joined the meeting about 45 minute after it started, stated that they had talked with other banks but that “no banks wanted to locate in Hampden unless they were on The Avenue [West 36th Street].”

Later, however, Blair acknowledged that Heritage Bank had actually pulled out of the project prior to the PUD approval. This meant that the developer knew going into the project that it would need a new, large anchor tenant to make the project financially feasible.

During the meeting, the developer’s rental agent confirmed that smaller tenants had been put on hold while the developers continued to look for the anchor.

At this point, a questioner from the floor asked, “Why is a school being considered?” Blair replied, “Why not?”

Hands flew up all over the room amid groans and angry outbursts from the audience.

According to an officer of the Wyman Park Association who stood in rebuttal, the approved PUD specified “small offices from 500 to 15,000 square feet.” No such tenant would be large enough to qualify as an “anchor tenant.”

A representative from Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) said during the meeting that Keyser Development had come to BDC with the idea of a single-use tenant, but that such a significant change was thought by BDC to require PUD review by BDC, the Department of Planning and the City Council.

A representative from the Planning Department subsequently said that a change to a single-use tenant, particularly a school, did not constitute a “significant change” as far as Planning was concerned, and would not need to be reviewed, since a school was not specifically excluded from the PUD.

Asked if there was some way for the community to amend the PUD to specifically exclude a school, the BDC representative said that it could be done if a member (or members) of the City Council asked for an amendment.

Since there were two members of the City Council present, Catherine Pugh and Keifer Mitchell, they took the podium, telling the audience that they would “do what the community wanted.”

Throughout the meeting, both with a voice vote and show of hands, the community had made it clear that it did not want the school and that it wanted the PUD followed as written.

Asked whether he needed a formal letter from the community to start the amendment process, Councilman Mitchell said he did.

At this point the vice president of the Wyman Park group began writing, and, within a few minutes, he had penned a letter which people signed. It was given to the Councilpersons as they left the meeting.

Update: Subsequent to the meeting, The Northern District Taskforce drafted a more formal letter which delineates the request to exclude “schools and other institutions” from the Northern District PUD. The ordinance, which at this time is to be known as Ordinance 02-370, is still being finalized. Concerned neighbors are encouraged to let their councilpersons know their feelings as to any PUD changes.

Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on June 4, 2003.
6.10Local Newsbriefs
6.10MTA Rate Increases Go In Effect June 30
6.10A Little Bit of France Can Be Found on Falls Road
6.10Liquor: The Other Drug
6.4City Council Unanimously Condemns ‘Patriot Act’
6.4City’s Neighborhoods Are Becoming Poor Stepchildren {Updated!}
6.4Fate of Northern District Police Station Not Clear
6.4 Sports: Injury Bug Bites Birds
6.7Letters to the Editor
6.4The New Republic
6.4Baltimore City Comptroller Pratt
6.4FCC Chairman Powell
6.4The Public about the Plight of the Working Poor
6.4Channel Guide Magazine
6.4‘Beyond Paradise’ Profiles Silent Film Star Novarro
6.9Ridgeway Elementary School will present six performances of "The Wiz" in June.
6.4The Washington Post— and George Orwell
6.4Behind the Scenes at the FCC: Access Counts
6.4French Ambassador Details US Media’s Falsities
6.4Public Appears to Shrug Off Reporter’s Misdeeds
7.2Of Mice and (Con) Men
6.22The 'Crime' of Exercising Free Speech at Baltimore's Inner Harbor
6.10Editorial: Middle Child Must Help Itself
6.10Editorial: Jayson Blair, Minor League Liar
6.4Phony-Baloney Constitutionalists
6.4Remote Control “Democracy” in Iraq
6.4Korea: A Change of Viewpoint
6.4Rolling Back the 20th Century
6.4Transcript of a Censored Commencement Address
6.4A Jobless America Is an America at Risk
6.4If History Is Prelude...
5.7Noted Reporter Robert Dreyfuss Draws Crowd Here
4.9Q & A with Greg Palast {Heldover}
6.27Dean or Kucinich: Which is Better for Progressives?
6.4Who Is Howard Dean?
6.4The Free-Market Al-Qaeda
6.4Tensions Thaw, but Is Peace Possible in South Asia?
6.4Scientists Dispute Pentagon Claims about DU
6.4Can Venezuela Avoid Civil War?
6.4Operation “Syrian Freedom”
6.4Nader Signals He Will Run Again in 2004
6.4Iraq’s Infrastructure Situation Is Critical
6.4How a U.S. Company Props Up the House of Saud
SCREED: news major media ‘tries to hide’
Websites We Like!
Analysis & Perspective

Public Service Ads: