By Tyler McGee
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Towson area families asked the Baltimore County Council last week to stop the construction of a Royal Farms gas station in west Towson.
Parents and their children told the council during its meeting that the Royal Farms proposal is bad for the community because it would bring more pollution, unfair competition to minority owned businesses, and health risk to children.
Children held signs reading “no Royal Farms gas station at Towson gateway.”
The residents of west Towson said they were particularly upset because the Royal Farms station would sit next to Immaculate Conception, a private Catholic school for children in pre-school through eighth grade.
The proposal for the Royal Farms was submitted in April 2013 by Caves Valley Partners, a real estate company that wants to develop the property. The property bid for $8.5 million in 2013.
The Royal Farms isn’t the only property that could potentially replace the fire station currently on the site. There is also 10,000 square feet of retail and a 4,200-square-foot pad for restaurants or banks that would accompany the Royals Farms, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Baltimore Sun has reported that the fire station currently located on the proposedRoyal Farms site, is set to be moved. Due to zoning laws the Royal Farms has to be approved as a planned unit development, which is required because the land is zoned for town centers.
“The gas station would bring a concentration of flammable materials into a residential neighborhood on a level that is not acceptable by EPA,” resident Nicole Risser said, referring to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Parents said they had an issue with the health risks from the fuel being right next to the school. They said several gas stations already exist in the area, adding that there is a Royal Farms a mile away from proposed location at York Road and Bosley Avenue.
“It competes unfairly with a minority owned business, which is right across the street — that is the Exxon station,” Risser said. “It’s been our position all along that this fills no economic need, it fills no community need. We have enough convenience and we have enough gas.”
Opponents of the proposal said they were worried that the minority owned business in the area might be put out of business if the Royal Farms was built.
The residents said they were not being heard by their government and they felt underrepresented.
“The neighborhood wants one thing and one thing only,” resident Ron Gallop said. “We want to have a say in what goes in our neighborhood. We have enough commerce. We don’t need this. We don’t want it. I think that’s the majority of the people and I think our will is being subverted.”
Although the community members felt their voices were going unheard, they said Councilman David Marks was listening to their concerns with the gas station. Marks represents the Fifth District of Baltimore County, which includes Towson, Loch Raven Village, Carney, and other communities.
“This is against the will of the people,” Gallop said.
No one from Royal Farms or the Caves Valley Partner presented testimony at the meeting.
“Those are the key issues: pollution, unfair competition for minority business, undermining community coalition, community organization, community will and the environmental issues,” Risser said.
The Baltimore County Council will vote on this bill in a month.