The Baltimore Zoning and Municipal Appeals Board will not hold another hearing on a proposal to build a Checkers fast food restaurant with a passage lane on Gwynns Falls Parkway, although residents have expressed strong opposition to the project.
Zoning council voted 3-0 in a virtual meeting today to deny community groups’ request for another hearing, after council voted to approve drive-thru at a meeting on the 26th. January. The decision brings Checkers one step closer to the start. construction.
An opponent of the drive-through restaurant said after the meeting that residents plan to appeal the zoning council’s decision and want to meet with directors of the city’s planning and transportation departments.
“We will go to Circuit Court,” said Mary Hughes, one of the residents who requested another hearing, after the request was denied.
Board of Directors: No new issues were raised
Zoning council members James Fields, Frank Bonaventure and Avery Strahan, who also approved the project on January 26, voted to reject the motion to reconsider the vote.
Board member Bill Cunningham, who abstained in the Jan. 26 hearing, did not vote on the motion today.
The vote came after interim council executive director Kathleen Byrne said the city received two letters requesting a new hearing.
Byrne said the writers of the letter raised concerns about “the inability to ensure compatibility between adjacent residential commercial districts” and that “some people online were unable to express their opinion” in because of the virtual format of public hearings.
Byrne said the board may consider holding a new hearing if someone can provide “identifiable facts” that the board’s decision was “a product of any of the following: fraud, error, irregularity, inadvertence, surprise clerical or typographical errors or, on a demonstration of good cause, the unavailability of evidence, the existence of newly discovered evidence or other relevant evidence not available or not presented to the commission at the hearing initial. “
In this case, she said, there was no issue raised in the letters that had not been raised during the January hearing, and there was no indication that anyone who did not able to participate on January 26 had “additional information or evidence that was new for the board to consider.
Even if there had been, she said, reconsideration motions “are at the discretion of the board. Even if these questions are raised, the board does not have to reconsider.
Bonaventure said he remembers Byrne doing his best to let people speak during the Jan. 26 hearing.
“Katy, if I remember correctly, you were diligent enough to make sure everyone who raised their hands in the chat room was heard,” he said.
Byrne corrected it, saying the January 26 meeting was chaired by his predecessor, former acting director Livhu Ndou.
“I think it was actually one of Livhu’s last reunions,” she told Bonaventure.
A restaurant at 2600 Gwynns Falls Parkway was already cleared before the Jan. 26 hearing, but a drive-thru lane requires separate zoning board approval.
Many community groups, including the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council, have opposed the drive-thru, as has 7th District City Councilor James Torrence.
Hughes, who lives on Braddish Avenue, argued that she and other letter writers had brought new information to the attention of the zoning board.
This included traffic data from the US Department of Transportation, accusations that some of the opponents had previously been denied the right to testify, and information about the possibility of gasoline tanks being buried under the property, a- she declared.
Under state law, all underground gas tanks must be removed before a property can be used to sell food.
Hughes said she was troubled that Byrne had summarized the contents of the letters requesting a rehearing rather than reading them in their entirety to the board members.
Bryne “told them nothing was new,” said Hughes. “She said the letters were in their package” and they “just took her at her word for” nothing new. “
Cunningham asked if the January vote came with conditions. Byrne said the drive-thru was approved on the condition that a traffic study be conducted by the transportation department and the developer’s sitemap is approved by the sitemap review committee.
Byrne said the sitemap review committee couldn’t hold a meeting to review the project unless the zoning council approved the drive-thru. Today’s action means the project can pass this level of review.