While many Towson residents voiced support Tuesday for a bill that would effectively cut in half the height of the proposed Red Maple Place housing development, Baltimore County’s attorney testified to the county council that its passage would make the county vulnerable to a lawsuit for violating the Fair Housing Act.
The bill up for discussion, proposed by County Councilman David Marks, restricts the height of multifamily buildings within 500 feet of the downtown Towson district to no more than 30 feet, or roughly two-and-a-half stories tall.
But much of Tuesday’s discussion of this bill focused on Red Maple Place, a proposed 56-unit affordable housing complex nearing the end of its development review process. It would be located on Joppa Road on a sloping piece of land where opponents say development would exacerbate stormwater runoff into a branch of the Herring Run river.
Dana Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Homes for America which is developing the project, told the council that the Annapolis-based nonprofit would pursue legal action if the bill is passed. She said the bill’s adoption would kill the project.
Red Maple Place is opposed by residents of Historic East Towson, Baltimore County’s oldest African-American community, environmental protection advocates at the Green Towson Alliance and the adjacent Harris Hills Condominium Association.
The size of the proposed building and the units offered can’t be changed, Johnson said, because the developer has already received “significant subsidies” through the state and federal programs that preclude altering projects that have received credits.