The following updates were recorded during the Perry Hall Improvement Asociation meeting, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 10 in the Perry Hall Library. Technical difficulties prevented the notes from being published in real time.
PHIA president Dennis Robinson opened the meeting, announced that there will be no meeting on Valentine's Day in February.
He also introduced Buddy Butt in attendance, over 90 years old, the unofficial mayor of Perry Hall.
County Councilman David Marks took the stand. He spoke about his former post as president of the PHIA for nearly 10 years.
He talked about the differences between Towson and Perry Hall, both in his district. Towson is more urban and dealing with issues like bail bondsman. Perry Hall is more rural. But both are dealing with issues like overcrowded schools.
Marks complimented county government in general for being fiscally responsible. He commended the county executive and council for cutting the county workforce and not raising taxes.
"I have worked closely with the council and county executive to not raise taxes," he said. He is working on reforms, he said, to establish a three-term limit for councilpeople. "In three terms you should get your work done … it did not pass last year but I think it stimulated discussion."
He passed a lot of development legislation. If the community needs to meet with a developer, the meeting must be held near by the community, he said. Marks has also passed legislation to bring more community input and transparency into the development process. He said he is most proud of the new zoning classification for open space. Before, everything was zoned for some level of development. Many of the properties were already owned by the government or by homeowner's associations. When it is zoned as open space, it gives it another layer of protection. If anyone decides to sell the land, they need to take special measures.
Marks said it's frustrating when people on Patch say that no more homes should be built in Perry Hall, he still needs to respect private property rights of landowners.
263 acres were downzoned in Perry Hall this last session. It's the most downzoning since 1992. "Right now, Perry Hall has more open space zoning than any other community in Baltimore County."
He also had two new greenways approved in Perry Hall. Those areas including the area near Seven Oaks Elementary and Indian Rock and the old alignment for Perry Hall Boulevard that would have allowed for more homes. Now they are conservation areas. This was county-owned land so it came at no cost to taxpayers. There were also 11 acres added to Honeygo Park this past year. The county got a net gain of acres after making a deal with a developer.
He updates attendees on the Perry Hall dog park. The county approved a location. He said the community needs to raise more money before the county will subsidize it. He also helped the Perry Hall Mansion gain $15,000 in funding.
"There will be development in Perry Hall … development is coming but the rezoning at least limits it."
"We don't have $60 or $80 million to pay for a new high school. We should have done that during better times … but what I can do is make sure that only the appropriate residents are attending it."
He talked about the revitalization district in the heart of Perry Hall. This helped attract the new Giant, he said. He talked about trying to improve Downtown Perry Hall.
Marks said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz deserves credit for road resurfacing. That money is no longer flowing from the state, but the county is making it a priority. He said Chapel is being resurfaced and Bangert, about 5 miles of road. Belair Road also received new rumble strips and new safety signs were installed on Miller Road.
Air conditioning at elementary school is another issue. Seven Oaks Elementary will get AC this year. "We're slowly working down the list."
Kingsville, Joppa View and Chapel Hill still need AC.
Marks has worked for more trails around the community for biking and walking.
He said he's trying to do more with less and that environmental efforts have not cost much in taxpayer dollars.
An attendee asked about how active homeowners associations are. Marks talked about how homeowners associations can help tend open space and have been supportive of that.
An attendee asked about how students at Perry Hall High who are dual residency should not be allowed to attend such an overcrowded school. She said students openly discuss that. She said she is frustrated because classes are over 30 members per class.
Marks said he has not recently spoken to the school about that, but he is concerned about that. In the past, the school system has said that it's not the County Council's business. Marks said he agrees with the woman. "My concern is that my son is being robbed of his education because to his teachers, he is just a number," the woman said. She said that it's a great school but it needs to have smaller class sizes. Marks said the only thing he can do to lower enrollment is to lower development. Marks said he would like to see a new magnet high school in White Marsh.
An attendee asked about the accuracy of speed cameras in Baltimore County, which use the same vendor as the Baltimore City, which has been proven faulty. He is wondering how the state legislators' decisions about speed cameras will impact the county. Marks said they are investigating. Marks also added that he has always voted against speed cameras and prefers using traffic calming and police. He said that a report is late on the effectiveness of the cameras in the county. Marks said he asked for an amendment to the speed camera law allowing him to veto where a camera goes in his district, but his amendment did not pass.
An attendee asked about new homes off Chapel Road and how the road cannot handle the increased traffic. Marks said he does not want Chapel to turn into a 50-foot road. He would rather it stay the current width, but he would support sidewalks. He said Chapel Road does require repairs. The attendee said that it's still too narrow for walking traffic.
Another attendee talked about hazards between cars and walkers and buses on Snyder and Chapel Road. Drainage is also an issue, he said.
Marks said he is talking advantage of every opportunity to resurface roads.
An attendee asked about violent crime in the Perry Hall area and in White Marsh. Marks said there aren't resources to have police everywhere all the time, but his very supportive of COP community watch groups. He organized a meeting to form those last year. "I'm a politician, not a police officer, so we'll have to talk to them," Marks said, adding that he has asked for more police in the area.
The Bishops Meadow development next to the library is set to begin this year.
Someone asked about hiring more teachers. A mother of a student said she would like to see the 25 teachers lost two years ago come back to the school. Marks said he is looking into it. He said he is optimistic that more teachers will be hired again. he said the new superintendent is more active and better at listening. Marks said his wife is a teacher and he understands. Marks added that Perry Hall High is better than ever. Principal George Roberts is the best principal they've ever had, Marks said.
Marks said he is working with the principal to help community issues.
A woman asked about Perry Hall Square Shopping Center. There are more businesses coming in—the new Giant, Bunce Barber, Salvo Auto. Marks said there are serious discussions about the longterm future of the center and how new restaurants need to come in. Marks said there is enough commercial space in Perry Hall that businesses need to fill vacant spaces.
Someone asked if developers could pay more to support community efforts. Marks said he is facing this in Parkville at Harford Road and Joppa Road, where a CVS is planned. The developer agreed to pay to fix the intersection, which helps to improve the larger community. That contribution is improving relations between the community and government and business. Marks said legislative changes could levy "impact fees" on businesses. Marks said this is a possible good way to increase funds for community projects.
An attendee asked about a redevelopment as the Seasons Pizza, which Marks praised.
The Poor Little Rich Girl will be demolished and something new will be built that must be reviewed by the Baltimore County design committee. The Double T Diner is here to stay. Marks said a CVS and a Trader Joes is not planned to replace the Poor Little Rich Girl (audience laughed). He said he wished he could pass a law to force a Trader Joes to come to Perry Hall.
There is no meeting in February due to Valentine's Day.
After a break for the holidays, the Perry Hall Improvement Association's monthly meetings return this Thursday at the Perry Hall Library.
Starting at 7:30 p.m., County Councilman David Marks is scheduled to address community members on issues facing Perry Hall and Baltimore County. Attendees may also ask questions.
All local residents and members of the business community are welcome to attend.