Baltimore County Council Cancels Middle River Quarry Development


The derelict LaFarge Quarry site. (Credit: Google/ Google Maps)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - The plan to construct a 3-million-square-foot industrial park at the former LaFarge Quarry, previously greenlit by the Baltimore County Council, was unanimously rejected on Monday.

Initially approved in October with a 4-3 vote, the Middle River Quarry project had been met with persistent resistance from local residents concerned about environmental damage and the potential for traffic congestion in the predominantly rural area.

The seven-member council retracted its endorsement of the quarry project, previously authorized as a planned-unit development (PUD).

A PUD designation is typically reserved for mixed-use projects offering public benefits or meeting superior development standards. Many individuals voiced their support for rescinding the project's approval during a council work session on May 30, including state delegates Kathy Szeliga and Ryan Nawrocki.

Recent legal concerns have also arisen around the project's legality due to its residential zoning, as highlighted by the county's Office of Law.

Chesapeake Real Estate Group and Holcim-MAR, the project's developers, had plans to construct warehouses, retail outlets, and offices at the former mining site. They also proposed donating around 200 acres for a vocational school. The Board of Education declined this offer after a report concluded the area was not fit for a high school.

In April, the County Council passed a bill proposed by Councilman David Marks, enabling council members to revoke previous approvals for planning projects. On Monday, Marks used the bill to call for a reversal of the council's prior approval, citing legal questions, opposition from the community, and a lack of responsiveness from the developers.

"The earlier approval was rushed through the County Council two months before the last election," Marks said. "There was no traffic plan, no assurance that all the land would be free from contaminants, and no requirement that the developer pay for the infrastructure needed thanks to this project. I thank the many residents and community associations who joined me in opposing this proposal."

He warned that legal challenges could plague the project for years, creating problems for the community, the county, and the developers.

The bill was co-sponsored by Izzy Patoka and Wade Kach, who initially supported the quarry project but was reportedly unaware of the depth of community opposition when he did so.

Josh Sines, a longtime leader in the Bird River Beach, commended the action.

"True to his word, Councilman Marks acted to preserve the sensitive environment and quality of life of eastern Baltimore County," Sines said in a statement. 

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