“Jobs will be lost if BCC leaves the City of Baltimore,” he warned in the letter, sent by email to members on September 28.
Stott accused members of the Roland Park Civic League of waging a campaign to persuade the City Council to downzone a 32-acre parcel owned by the country club, so it is less valuable to potential developers and the community can buy it for a lower price.
In his letter, Stott also said there is no interested party seeking to buy the country club’s land.
Stott sent his letter on the same day that the City Council’s Land Use and Transportation Committee held a hearing about the rezoning of city properties as part of the Transform Baltimore process.
One of the properties up for rezoning is the undeveloped Baltimore Country Club tract, which stretches from Falls Road to its club house on Club Lane.
The Roland Park Civic League sent messages to its members this week urging them to ask their elected representatives to adjust zoning on the Baltimore County Club parcel to limit the number of homes that can be built on the parcel, in case the club sells it.
Civic League President Ian MacFarlane warned in his letter that the zoning designation recommended by city planners, R-1-E, would permit the construction of “well more than 100 homes’” on the country club property. City planner Laurie Feinberg later said city planners estimate a builder could get approximately 52 homes on the country club property with R-1-E zoning, not more than 100.
Stott did not respond to a request for more information about the country club’s position on the rezoning process or his remark about the country club leaving the city and the jobs that would be lost.
Following are excerpts of his September 28 letter, in which he also responds to coverage of the controversy by the Baltimore Fishbowl.
Dear BCC members,
It is now time for BCC to be respectfully heard.
I write this email as the Baltimore City Land Use and Transportation Committee, which makes zoning recommendations to the full Baltimore City Council, meets this afternoon in preparation for the long-awaited TransForm Baltimore comprehensive re-zoning bill. Please read the article that the Roland Park Civic League, the leaders of our Roland Park community, discussed with the Baltimore Fishbowl publication (BCC was never contacted to add to the article).
We also encourage you to read the comments from individuals in retort to the Fishbowl article – it is nice that individuals have empathy and understanding for your 118-year-old business and institution in Baltimore City, and it is reassuring that others recognize the duplicitous nature of the Roland Park Civic League.For BCC members’ historical understanding and for clarification of the Baltimore Fishbowl article:
The Roland Park Civic League continues to fabricate and lie about their actions and the Club’s. One hundred (100) homes are not possible by right or logistically able to be built on the entire RP property (note City Planner Laurie Feinberg’s remarks in the article). The Roland Park Civic League has never let the truth get in their way of vilifying Baltimore Country Club.
Where did they get their information about the Club building 100 homes on the property? Where did they get their information about the Club hiring lobbyists in order to develop our land? There is no interested party desiring to buy your RP land. Where did they get any of their information about the Club? The RP Civic League invents things to stir the community against the Club.
In 2006, we received an offer of $12.5M from the Keswick Group to purchase 17.5 acres of your undeveloped RP land. The land would have been used to build a high-end retirement community that would have brought hundreds of jobs and tens of tax paying residents to Baltimore City. We would have made sure these new senior neighbors with means would be respectful because we would be looking at their facility every day going forward. We were going to use the proceeds from the sale to invest capital into our RP facilities because reinvestment is required by tax law (reinvestment must take place within thirty-six months of the sale of a club asset) to avoid property gains taxes, and most critically, the 100+ year-old RP Clubhouse and campus NEEDS capital investment (please look at the parking lots).
BCC membership voted 91% in favor of the sale to the Keswick Group. We were also going to give the RP community a 5+ acre dog walking park as part of the project. The community, led by the RP Civic League, effectively and relentlessly disparaged the Club with their campaign to “Save the Park in Roland Park”. To be exact, your property has never been a “park”, although RP residents trespass on it like it is. Because of that misleading campaign, the elected officials declined to approve the Keswick project. Now the community sees an opportunity to make lasting and irreparable financial damage to BCC, and our elected officials are again lacking the courage to do what is right for the City of Baltimore.
The Club leadership, led by the President and the Board of Governors, are working diligently to protect the value of the BCC land and they have been engaged in this protection for years. The communication and appeals to Club members and BCC staff advocating for the Club has picked up in the last three weeks only because it was just days (truly at the 11th hour before the TransForm Baltimore vote) before RP Councilwoman, Sharon Green Middleton, told our representatives that she had changed her mind and would be proposing to the City Council that BCC not be downzoned from R-1 to R-1E, but that, at the request of the RP Civic League, BCC should be downzoned from R-1 to R-1C or R-1D…
Two weeks ago, we were in the office of an elected leader from Baltimore City and he/she said unprovoked, “We know why the Civic League wants your land downzoned; because they want to buy it at the lowest possible price and they said that to us”. We just cannot understand why the City Council will not stand up for jobs (jobs will be lost if BCC leaves the City of Baltimore), business taxes, a historic and stable institution, etc. Votes and councilmanic courtesy are what matters most, clearly…
Stott ended his letter by encouraging country club members to contact city officials to support the zoning that the club wants to see.
Ian MacFarlane, president of the Roland Park Civic League, could not be reached for a response to Stott’s letter. MacFarlane indicated in his September 25 letter to the community that the Civic League wants zoning of the country club property to permit development that is consistent with that of surrounding properties.
The council is expected to take final action on the rezoning effort in October.
Dear Readers: We welcome your comments. As many of you know, the comment rules in the Baltimore Fishbowl are no name-calling, no personal attacks, and no vulgarity. After receiving some aggressive comments over the last few days, we are adding one more rule: no hostile insults (humorous insults are okay. Kidding.).
The Baltimore Fishbowl does not want to be used as a vehicle for an already too aggressive public dialogue, not just here but in our culture as a whole.
We reserve the right to edit your comments.
– Susan Dunn, Editor and Publisher, Baltimore Fishbowl