July 27, 2008

11 Newburg Avenue Zoning Change Request

It was recently brought to my attention that my "Friendly Neighbors" on Newburg Ave.,
the ones that we have been working with, to ensure that the character of Newburg Ave. is maintained. Are circulating a petition to stop the "Greedy Developer, from tearing down the house at 11 Newburg Ave. and building a Burger King".

I DO NOT WANT to see a fast food restaurant or a gas station on this site either. But, I urge you not to sign their misleading petition.

These are the same people that tried to stop Frederick Road Fridays - Music Nights from happening and they also tried to stop the outdoor move nights. If you missed any of these events, you can read about them on this blog, they have all been very successful and have helped contribute to the great sense of community that we all enjoy.

I would like to again share my reasons for the zoning change request.

Below, I have reprinted an excerpt from my post dated January 30, 2008, entitled 2008 CZMP.
The entire post is still available on this blog.

"As you may be aware, we have applied to have the zoning changed on the properties at
9 & 11 Newburg Ave. They are currently zoned and occupied as RO or Residential/Office. With an approved variance allowing the rear of the properties to be used to provide parking for the business located at 821-829 Frederick Road as well as 9&11 Newburg Ave. We have carefully selected tenants whom we have felt will be unobtrusive, and good neighbors, to occupy these two properties.
We have requested a zoning change to BL or Business local. Our main reason for requesting this change has to do with our ability refinance the properties. The lender will not refinance or allow us to negotiate better terms with the "split zoning" which is currently on the property. We would like to be able to do this so that we may finish the whole project this year.
I have stated publicly ever since we bought these properties, that we have no intention of tearing down any of the buildings on the properties. Had that been our intention, we would not have invested so much in them. I would like to assure you that we are not just trying to make a "fast buck" we are looking at this as a 50 year project. That is, as someone that was born, raised and still lives in Catonsville, we are working to create something that the residents of Catonsville will be proud of 50 years from now!
If anyone has any concerns or questions about this zoning request. Or you would like to help. Please feel free to call me at 443.830.0310. We are eager to work out an agreement that will protect the neighbors best interests.
Thank you for all of your support." Craig


Anonymous said...

Mr Witzke, Regarding the zoning request, I'm sure you understand the needs of homeowners that reside adjacent to your property. As a resident of Catonsville, we all want the safety and character of our immediate neighbors to remain or improve as they are. When a law is changed (zoning) it is no longer imperative and while things can remain good in the better of times, it is when economic factors or family factors or... change that protection by law helps. I applaud your desire for a historic downtown, but I would first want to know that my adjacent property would not degrade my quality of life. I love what you have done on Frederick Road but I would not want it on Newburg, especially if my house were adjacent to 9 and 11.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to protect the character of Catonsville. We have been working with the residents of Newburg Ave. to drfat restrictive covenants to protect these homes for the future. The Neighbors are spreading misleading and untrue information. Craig Witzke

Rebekah Kaufman said...

As you know I am one of your biggest fans and I truly appreciate all that you have done for Frederick Road,but you really need to compromise and listen to the concerns of your neighbors on Newburg.
While Friday, Catonsville concerts are wonderful, the decision to originally block off Newburg, was made without consulting the people who lived there. When the venue was moved it reflected a great compromise.
The Muir property is another opportunity for compromise. If you really are concerned with protecting homes in the future, then give the group something in writing that refects that.
I believe that there are many ways in which you can use the property for office use that would be agreeable for all.
I plan to sign the online petition and I hope that itwill bring all parties back to the bargaining table.
Again, thank you for all that you do for Catonsville and Frederick Road.
Rebekah Kaufman

Tess said...

Craig, why not sell the properties to be used as homes again?

Anonymous said...

Tess -

I appreciate your question. I bought these two properties from the previous owner, because they were zoned for commercial use as offices.

9 Newburg Ave. used to be home to The Catonsville Times, as well as many other non-residential uses over the years.

11 Newburg Ave was vacant for a long time before I purchased it.

I want to fix them up into nice looking Victorian Offices. I tried to rent 11 as a house, but, only had responses from people that wanted to use it as a group home.

I had one offer from someone that wanted to buy it for 1/2 of what I paid, they said it needed to many repairs to make it liveable.

A few years ago I bought another beautiful home in Catonsville that I wanted to fix up, but, I met a nice gentleman that really wanted it. He promissed to restore it to it's former grandeur. So I sold it to him. Since then the owner has collected many used vehicles in the yard as well as all types of other junk. I am terribly embarrassed every time that I ride by that house. It should be beautiful. It is in a great location.

If I were to sell 9 or 11 Newburg Ave as residences, I would have no control over their future uses. They could be turned into rentals, torn down to build New Homes (As Mr. Davis just did farther up Newburg Ave.) or turned into assisted living facillities or a group home.

When I decided to create Strawberry Fields, I had a vision.

When it is finally completed, the 2 buildings on Newburg Ave. will be gracefully restored and rented to appropriate tenants. Like PDA Marketing, the company that has rented 11 Newburg Ave. for the last year and a half. These tenants could not be a better fit for the neighborhood. They do not have parties and have very low traffic. There is a large demand for proffesional office space in older restored homes. This is the best use of the property.

Tess, I would like to ask you how you would feel if people told you to sell your property. Or better yet, if they were trying to create fear, by spreading lies and trying to intimidate you out of doing something that you know is right.


Tess said...

Thanks for clearing that up Craig- obviously the best answer for Newburg residents is to have the homes restored and used as homes. You do make a very good point in that there are no promises that a home will be maintained to everyone's liking. We see that all over our beautiful old neighborhood. There are times that I have wished for one of those up-tight neighborhood associations to make some of our neighbors clean up their junk. I, like many in the area- and I'm walking distance to all of this- are very grateful you have stepped in, you've done a great job. But, many of us have difficulty seeing business move onto our street. You MUST be able to see this. Does your neighborhood have businesses on your street? Also, many of us see a larger problem being over-looked in the neighborhood- the amount of mental health services in our front yards, along with the wandering mentally ill all over the place. I cannot understand the appeal for developers. Most of us are very wary to walk up to main street. It is not safe. Every time I have taken my children up to the Sugar Shack, the Gourmet, where-ever, we are approached by a vagrant- or they witness some form of disturbing behavior. But, I digress, sorry. No, I would not want someone telling me to sell my property- I wasn't really saying that- and you make a good case for not selling it as such. I do hate to see you and the neighbors engaged in battle- you've been a great friend to the community. Now, could use some of that clout to lighten up our psych. patient load?? Thanks for providing this forum- good for quickly separating fact from fiction!

Anonymous said...

Tess -
Part of the appeal for developers is that people with mental illnesses are protected under Federal Guidelines, so it is often much easier to put in a clinic or a group home than it is something better for the community.

The people that are in 11 Newburg right now work 10 am - 5pm Monday through Friday. No Evening entertaining. No weekend parties. No loud music. And not a lot of visitor's. They are definatley better neighbors than some that I have had before. There are many people in neighborhoods running businesses from their homes right now. (Without the proper zoning) Psychiatrists, Amway, Mary Kay, Accountants, etc. Craig

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