The Baltimore County Council approved a zoning change Tuesday night that will allow a car dealership to build an additional parking lot on a parcel of land that neighbors consider a buffer between their community and the business.
The small parcel, less than one acre, separates the MileOne Hertiage dealership on Harford Road from the residents of nearby East Avenue.
Sixth District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins said that ultimately she supported the change in zoning because it was the "best thing she could do for the communty."
Bevins said that although neighbors think of the lot as a green buffer between a major business and their homes, the property is owned by the dealership.
"[Heritage owns] the property. It's less than one acre. They wanted to be able to park employees' cars there to free up space for inventory," Bevins said. "People told me they think of [the land] as a green buffer, they say 'I walk my dog there' ... but ultimately, who pays the taxes on it?"
During the rezoning process, neighbors voiced their opinion that the auto dealership was a bad neighbor to Bevins at a community meeting—an issue she considers to be resolved.
"Let's start at the beginning: four or five months ago when I went to a community meeting and there were some residents from East Avenue there," Bevins said. "It semed like zoning was seperate from Heritage being a bad neighbor."
Bevins said residents expressed concerns about lighting at the dealership, as well as concerns about cars being parked and unloaded from tractor trailers on East Avenue.
"Zoning was one thing and they were mad about that behavior and didn’t want me to rezone it for that reason," Bevins said. "I called MileOne, and they resolved the issues. They created an email address just for the residents of East Avenue that they could email or call the general manager if they had a problem."
"That was the underlying issue with the folks on East Avenue," she said. "We resolved it and many residents were grateful that I had opened the lines of communication and were glad they were moving forward."
Additionally, Bevins said that some residents were concerned that a building might be erected on the parcel of land, something she said would not occur. MileOne Heritage created a declaration to be filed with the county, which among other things, states that a building will not be erected on the property.
Other stipulations in the declaration include a 20-foot wide buffer around the edge of the property, a 6-foot-tall wooden fence to be erected and that lighting on the new parking lot will not extend above the fence.
"I felt like I came up with a really good plan," Bevins said. "I don’t need a car dealership moving out and having an empty business there on Harford Road. I didn’t want them saying we can’t make it in this space anymore. Plus, I had the support of the Parkville-Carney Business Association."