I know that the Councilman put forth his best effort to make a decision that would be the best one for the most people. His decision was obviously influenced by the many misinformed people that contacted his office asking him to "Save the Muir House", he must have felt that this is what the public wanted. I know that I wanted to see the house saved!
How could this dastardly developer. demolish these houses to build a .... (Insert here - any number of the lies that were spread about my intentions)?
In Reality, the Muir House was saved two years ago when we bought it. You see the property was marketed as commercial and several developers were interested in buying it with the intention of tearing it down and building something like a strip center. We always intended to protect this house and our actions have clearly demonstrated that.
Our sole purpose for our zoning request was to obtain different financing so that we could enhance the beauty of the 2 properties on Newburg Ave. with new landscaping and exterior cosmetic improvements. We wanted to create a beautiful gateway to our historic residential neighbors. (The inside of both of these properties have received many renovations since we acquired them.)
To prove our intentions, we were willing to enter into certain restrictive covenants that would protect the future of these properties for many years. The self appointed leaders of the NNA were ridiculous and wanted to control every little detail of my project, with unlimited time restraints. This was impossible to agree upon since technology increases so rapidly these days, that, prohibited uses today could be completely desirable in 20 yrs.The representatives from the NNA also wanted the covenants assigned to themselves personally, which meant that if they were to move, they would still be in control. I simply could not agree to their outrageous requests.
In an act of Shear Frustration, I had my attorney propose that I place 9&11 Newburg Ave in the Newburg Ave. Association and let the board draft whatever covenants they wanted to, as members of the association these properties would have to abide by their rules. This meant that if they said no businesses could operate on Newburg Ave., we would have to comply. The problem was that there are already several businesses operating out of houses on Newburg Ave. That are not allowed under their current zoning. (At least one Contracting Company, a daycare provider, a Steel Fabrication Company, a Sign Manufacturing Company, a T-Shirt Printing Company, a Music Recording Studio, Multiple Music Instructors and several other businesses) The Association did not want rules that would apply to any of these businesses ONLY MINE.
The Members of the NNA stated many times that they were not trying to attack me personally; they said they actually liked the improvements that we have made so far. They said that they were concerned about future owners of the property and what they may decide to use the properties for.We tried for Months and Months to agree on which Restrictive Covenants to place on the entire property, but their real intentions were never to reach an agreement, their real motivations were to strip the houses at 9 & 11 Newburg of the appropriate zoning that they have carried for longer than anyone has been able to verify.
The end results are:
Any property owner on Newburg Ave can still request a zoning change during the comprehensive zoning process every four years. Future owners of the properties at 9 &11 will not be excluded from this process as they would have by the covenants I had recommended we put in place.
I will not be able to move ahead with the refinancing plan, improvements to the facades of 9&11 Newburg Ave will be temporarily delayed.
The businesses that occupy these buildings will be able to stay legally and other professional tenants will be able to replace them when they leave.
Thousands of dollars were wasted on legal fees, money that should have gone directly into landscaping and other improvements.
We now have a Neighborhood that has been divided, due to a few individuals’ personal crusades.
Feelings have been hurt and neighbors are reluctant trust one another.
The leadership of the Newburg Neighborhood Association did nothing to "Maintain and Improve" the quality of life (as their web site proclaims) in Catonsville. They only created fear, anger and hard feelings among many residents of this great town. We deserve better than that.
I have offered my opinion about the short term affect of this zoning decision and the longer term results of the actions of the NNA. .
The Newburg Ave. Association appears to be very pleased with the results of the vote, I guess they feel that the ends justify the means: Here is an excerpt from their website:
Thank You Catonsville
Thank You Councilman Moxley
Thank you Catonsville for responding to our call for support. Over 500 of you joined us in calling on Councilman Moxley to protect our residential community from commercial encroachment.
At the August 26th County Council meeting, the Council voted unanimously to accept Councilman Moxley's motion to down-zone the houses at #9 and #11 Newburg Avenue to ROA and to up-zone the parking lot in their backyards to BL-CCC.
ROA zoning restricts the houses to residential or office use only, and gives substantial protection to maintaining the original structures. While this does not apply to the entire property, it is a significant move to support our request - which was to protect the historic structures and maintain the residential character of Newburg Avenue.
Thank you Councilman Moxley for hearing the voices of the community and taking positive action to protect the beautiful, historic community of Catonsville.