There are currently no plans to demolish the Perry Hall Mansion and replace it with a housing development—its four-acre lot on Meetinghouse Road remains Baltimore County-owned and the structure itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Still, downzoning the property from DR 2 (two houses per acre) to DR 1 (one house per acre) would further protect the area from future development, according to County Councilman David Marks.
He reaffirmed his support this week, associating the mansion's downzoning with his recent efforts to designate more than 55 acres of Perry Hall property as open space. The Neighborhood Commons zoning designation would protect those areas from virtually all future development.
"DR 1 is the lowest [the mansion property] can be zoned," he said. "It's not eligible to become open space ... but if at some point, it fell into private hands, this would add another layer of protection to the property."
Following a Perry Hall Improvement Association meeting in April, Donnell Zeigler of the Baltimore County Office of Planning told Patch that his office did not support the mansion's downzoning. It would needlessly devalue the county's asset, he said.
The final staff recommendation from the Office of Planning called for the mansion property to remain DR 2. The volunteer citizen advisory Planning Board, however, is supporting Marks in recommending the property be lowered to DR 1, according to county logs.
Each of the recommendations will be factored into the county's 2012 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process, which reexamines zoning designations every four years. The County Council is scheduled to vote on the final zoning map by Sept. 16.
Marks said he is "very confident" that the County Council will ultimately approve his downzoning proposal.
This is welcome news to representatives of community organizations, who have also publicly supported the mansion's downzoning—including Chris Defeo, the president of the Perry Hall Manor community association; Dennis Robinson, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association; and Jeffrey Smith, president of the Friends of the Perry Hall Mansion.
Smith said the mansion measure may be "redundant" because the property already has some protections in place. He compared it to "wearing a belt and suspenders."
"But properties like this are few and far between. It doesn't take very long for these things to disappear. The more protection we can give it, the better," he said.