Rodgers Forge Starbucks drive-through meets community disapproval

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By: Marcus Dieterle, Assistant News Editor

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks has withdrawn one legislative measure and deferred another after hearing community members’ concerns about a potential drive-through window at a Starbucks planned for 6900 York Rd. at the intersection of York Road and Regester Avenue.

Marks introduced Bill 98-16, which would have required the planned Starbucks to conduct a traffic study to determine any effects their business may have on traffic congestion and pedestrian safety, on Dec. 19 , but he recently withdrew the bill after facing opposition from County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s office.

Community members are concerned that a Starbucks at that location would increase traffic in the area and pose a safety risk for students walking to and from schools in the area, and a local group held a protest against the drive-through on Dec. 9.

Kris Henry, president of the Rodgers Forge Community Association, said that the Rodgers Forge, Stoneleigh, Idlewylde and Anneslie community associations contributed a total of $4,500 to commission their own traffic study, however they are still reviewing the report and are not ready to release any details.

Karen Rodriguez, a mother of students at Dumbarton Middle, Rodgers Forge Elementary and Towson High schools, is worried about her children’s safety as they travel between home and school.

“A child is going to be hurt,” Rodriguez said during a Jan. 23 Dumbarton Middle PTSA Executive Board meeting. “It’s not a matter of ‘if.’ It’s going to be ‘when.’”

Henry criticizes the county’s lack of effort to obtain community input before approving the plan in December 2015. She said that the county held  a development meeting on Nov. 24, 2015, but that the RFCA board was not made aware of it.

Instead of a drive-through, Rodriguez suggests that this Starbucks be a walk-up, similar to locations in Baltimore City on Charles Street and in Roland Park on Roland Avenue.

“We have a very walkable neighborhood,” she said. “I have suggested instead of a drive through they have a walk-up. It works for Rita’s. It could work for them.”

Henry echoed this idea on behalf of the RFCA as a whole.

“The Rodgers Forge Community Association is not opposed to a Starbucks at this location. We just don’t want it to have a drive-through,” she said. “A traditional store could be a great asset for the area, and I’d be first in line to get my grande soy latte.”

Marks has suggested alternatives such as changing the location of the entrance or adding speed bumps to slow down cars prior to crossing in front of pedestrians.

Marks has also deferred Resolution 9-17, which would establish the Rodgers Forge/Anneslie Commercial Revitalization District. The district would include the segment of York road between Dumbarton Road and Windwood Road and would be subject to review by the Baltimore County Design Review Panel.

Marks, who introduced the resolution Jan. 3, deferred it after attending a Jan. 11 RFCA meeting and hearing community members concerns about the planned Starbucks and related legislation.

“I think the constituents were concerned with the economic incentives for builders that would come with the revitalization district,” Marks said.

Those economic incentives include free architectural services and tax benefits for improvements that improve the property’s values, according to Marks.

The RFCA has not yet taken a position on the Commercial Revitalization District, but they did ask Marks to table the resolution until they were able to learn more about what it would entail.

Henry said the association wants to make sure a CRD would not attract more unwanted development.

“It’s not the kind of thing we want to rush into without understanding all the ramifications,” she said.

 

 

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