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Apologies! Link Dead To 25th Street Station Planning/Stormwater Management Info
March 4, 2011, 9:10 am
Filed under: News, Remington 25th Street Station

Apologies! Link Is Dead To 25th Street Station Planning/Stormwater Management Info

Earlier this week Baltidome posted the article: Baltimore Officials Grant Lowes/Walmart 25th Street Station Development Project Stormwater Management Waiver

The original link for the Baltimore City Planning Site Plan Review on December 16th, 2009 is now dead.  Baltidome apologizes for the inconvenience of the inactive link.

In the event that the page might become outdated, Baltidome saved a copy and the pertinent section is pasted below.

For the full Baltimore City Planning Site Plan Review from December 16th, 2009, CLICK HERE.  To read the original article on Baltidome, CLICK HERE.



Baltimore Officials Grant Lowes/Walmart 25th Street Station Development Project Stormwater Management Waiver

Baltimore Officials Grant Lowes/Walmart 25th Street Station Development Project Stormwater Management Waiver

In 2004, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached the largest settlement for storm water violations as a result of contamination found at Wal-Mart construction sites.

On February 4th, 2011 Baltimore City officials granted the proposed 25th Street Station bog-box development project a Stormwater Managment Waiver from Maryland’s 2007 State Stormwater Regulations.

The 25th Street Station project, originally pitched as a “green development” to area residents, promises to “meet or exceed Baltimore City’s recently enacted Green Building ordinance”.  However, the developers, represented by lawyer and Chair of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, Jon Laria, have now requested a Stormwater Management Waiver for the 25th Street Station and it has been approved.

According to the Baltimore City Stormwater Managment Manual,  Stormwater Management Concept Plans require “Waiver requests, if any” and curiously, the concept plan for the proposed 25th Street Station did not include a waiver request.  In addition, the Baltimore City planning department minutes from a Site Plan Review on December 16th, 2009 (link) of the 25th Street Station state,  “Stormwater Management will be under the new regulations”.

Residents raised concerns about whether the proposed 25th Street Station Development was in compliance with the 2007 Stormwater Management Law at an August 5th, 2010 Planning Commission hearing.  The development’s proposal includes covering a considerable amount of permeable land on the property with buildings and a parking lot.  Concern was raised that the plan does not appear to include adequate Environmental Site Design principles required under the Stormwater Management law.  Members of Baltimore City Planning Department dismissed resident’s concerns, stating the project had been “grandfathered” into the 2000 Maryland Stormwater Management requirements.

After the hearing, residents sought the waiver for the grandfathering of the 25th Street Station proposal.  Baltimore City Department of Public Works responded that a waiver had not been requested for the 25th Street Station.  Residents continued to raise Stormwater Management concerns regarding the proposed development up through the vote by Baltimore City Council on the 25th Street Station Planned Unit Development.

A “Public Notice” for the waiver request quietly appeared in the form of a single page posted within the Department of Public Works section of the Baltimore City website on January 19th, 2010.  One week was given for public comment.

The proposed 25th Street Station development project would encompass 11 acres in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore.  To learn more about Stormwater Runoff, CLICK HERE to visit the EPA’s website.



“Green” Walmart Project Represented By State Sustainable Growth Chair Seeks Stormwater Law Waiver

“Green” Walmart Project Represented By State Sustainable Growth Chair Seeks Waiver From 2007 Stormwater Law

Port Covington Walmart Stormdrain

25th Street Station Walmart Shopping Center Development Team Wants Waiver From 2007 Law

A page just located on the Baltimore City Public Works website published January 19 states that the city is indeed considering a request for an Administrative Waiver for the 2007 Stormwater Management Law for the proposed 25th Street Station Walmart development project (Nov 1, 2010 – Is The Baltimore City Council Going To Vote On An Illegal PUD?).

In Mid-November 2010 an email was sent by Charles Village Civic Association President, Jennifer Erickson, a reported community partner of the 25th Street Station, to Charles Village residents to quell concerns, in part, to protests over noncompliance with the Stormwater Management Law.  Erickson’s email offered testimony that the development team “began its planning two years ago” as justification for a waiver and for grandfathering the project into the minimal requirements of the 2000 Maryland Stormwater Regulations.

By Erickson’s own words, however, this is exactly why the project should not be grandfathered.   The project was plotted well after April 24, 2007, when Governor Martin O’Malley signed the “Stormwater Management Act of 2007”.  The planners made a conscious decision to shoot for grandfathering, rather than compliance, and with Jon Laria as their lawyer, top campaign contributor to Martin O’Malley’s campaign and Maryland Sustainable Growth Chair, they appear to have an ace in their pocket.

Getting “concept approval” by the waiver deadline is not justification alone for a Stormwater Management Waiver.  Baltimore City should not only consider the environmental impact of such a decision, but what the waiver will cost the city and its taxpayers in the long term.

The city posted the information regarding this waiver on their website on January 19th, 2010, but they did not send out a public notice to residents about the waiver application.   The period for comment consideration sent to warren.ware@baltimorecity.gov reportedly ended on January 27th.



Is The Baltimore City Council Going To Vote On Illegal Walmart Shopping Complex Plans?

Is The Baltimore City Council Going To Vote On An Illegal PUD?

Anderson Automotive, site of the the proposed Baltimore Walmart development

On November 8th the Baltimore City Council is expected to vote to amend the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the Walmart-anchored 25th Street Station development proposed for the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore.  There have been many concerns raised by residents about the impending development over the past several months, and while some concerns have been addressed, many have not.

One of the outstanding issues of the 25th Street Station development is the proposed project’s status as it relates to current state Stormwater Management Law.  Concern was raised at the August 5th Planning Commission hearing that the project appears not to comply with the Stormwater Management Act enacted by the state of Maryland in 2007.

So, why wouldn’t the proposed development comply with current law?  To explain, one must understand that there is a considerable amount of green space currently on the property of the proposed development, a rarity in Baltimore City.  Under the plan for the 25th Street Station, this open land will be covered and “replaced” with a green roof and small islands of greenery about the development. While a green roof can indeed be an effective sustainability feature of a building, it simply can not be compared as apples to apples when replacing permeable open land.

The developers have yet to justify how the 25th Street Station would not be creating more stormwater runoff than exists on the already developed property, a requirement of the 2007 Stormwater Management Act.  Stormwater runoff is generated when rain and snowmelt flows on solid surfaces, collects debris, chemicals, sediment and pollutants and transports them directly, unfiltered, to the nearest waterways.  The result can be harmful to the environment and the new Stormwater Law aims to stop this byproduct thoughtless development.

No justification has had to be made by the developers for their seeming disregard of the law, however.  The Baltimore City Planning Department o.k’d the project under the presumption that it had been “grandfathered” into the old Maryland Stormwater Management requirements. After the hearing, when residents requested the waiver that is needed for a project to be grandfathered, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works responded by stating that the project does not have an approved waiver and a waiver had not been requested.

The fact that a waiver is being discussed at all is a disgrace given that Jon Laria, the attorney who represents the development team, was recently appointed Chair of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission.  It should also be mentioned that Jon Laria is the leading contributor to the O’Malley campaign.

If the 25th Street Station development is granted a waiver then it will not be “LEED certifiable” as required by Baltimore Green Building Standards.  According to LEED requirements, construction “must comply with applicable federal, state, and local building-related environmental laws and regulations in place where the project is located.”

So, will the Baltimore City Council vote on a PUD that does not comply with current law?  – We’ll see.



25th Street Station, Come Hell Or High Stormwater

25th Street Station, Come Hell Or High Stormwater

Walmart Storm Drain at Baltimore Port Covington Shopping Center

For residents involved in legislation regarding the proposed 25th Street Station, the process has been a disappointing one.  There was the promise “this is not a done deal”, but during community presentations by the developers, the tone was one of “Here’s what we’ve done” rather than “Here’s what we can do for you”. Communication from District 7 Councilwoman Belinda Conaway, where the 25th Street Station project is proposed, has been poor. Residents living within a walkable distance of the site, but whose locale is not named “Remington”, have been deemed persona non grata by the councilmember and ignored. And finally, site plan concerns raised about the complex fell on deaf ears at the Planning Commission hearing on August 5th.  After four-plus hours of testimony, the commission voted unanimously, without deliberation, to approve zoning changes and move the project forward.

With this in mind, there is an urgent need in the 11th hour to bring attention to an issue that has received little scrutiny. The primary Environmental Site Design feature for the 11-acre site, the green roof atop Walmart, is insufficient to satisfy current local and state laws regarding sustainable development.  As a result the project appears to be failing in its methods for Stormwater Management under current law.

Stormwater management is an especially important concern for development within close proximity to our waterways and, in particular here, the Chesapeake Bay.  Stormwater runoff is generated when rain and snowmelt flows over impervious surfaces and is not filtered by the earth.   Runoff collects debris, chemicals, sediment and pollutants and transports it directly, unfiltered, to stormdrains and the nearest waterways.  The design plan for the 25th Street Station includes paving over the majority of the 11 acre site and does not appear to contain enough pervious surface area to adequately manage stormwater runoff under the current law.

This issue was brought up at the August 5th Planning Commission hearing, but was disregarded out of hand on the basis that the project had been “grandfathered” into the old requirements.  While it is true that provisions exist for the Maryland 2007 Stormwater Management Act where waivers can be administered by local agencies to projects that have received preliminary approval, but have yet to be realized, the 25th Street Station is not appropriate to be considered for such a waiver.

The development team was well aware of the 2007 stormwater law when they created their project’s design.  The lawyer for the project, Jon Laria, is the Chair of the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland and has conducted forums on stormwater management.  On September 2nd Laria was also appointed Chair of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission.  You would think that Mr. Laria would aid the developers in creating a model sustainable project for the City of Baltimore.  Instead he appears to be using his expertise to help his team skirt the law.

When a copy of the Stormwater Management Waiver was requested from the Baltimore Department of Public Works, the DPW responded that this project does not have an approved waiver and to date a waiver has not been requested.

Waiver or no Waiver, by not adhering to current stormwater management standards, this project is not “LEED certifiable” as required by Baltimore Green Building Standards.  According to the United States Green Building Council LEED 2009 minimum requirements, new construction “must comply with applicable federal, state, and local building-related environmental laws and regulations in place where the project is located.”

The last hope for resolution of this issue is at the September 15th Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing.  Hopefully Committee members will require compliance of current stormwater regulations and LEED certification for the passing of the PUD for the 25th Street Station.  Otherwise they will be an accomplice in rendering the developers immune to current city and state environmental regulations.

Port Covington Stormwater Filter: Rocks On A Gutter



Baltidome in Reuters…

Following the Spirit of Green Building Laws

content by Greener World Media

By Shari Shapiro at Greener World Media

Thu Sep 9, 2010 1:00am EDT

In 2009, Baltimore passed an amendment to its building code requiring public and private buildings above 10,000 gross square feet to “be equivalent to a LEED-Silver level.”

Obviously, the goal was to get buildings in Baltimore to be more environmentally friendly. Fast forward a year, and a controversy is brewing over whether a proposed Big Box project, including a Lowe’s and a Walmart is actually green.

There is some rumbling that the project was not green because it was not being certified by the USGBC, and may not be properly managing its wastewater.

According to Baltidome:

During community testimony at the hearing, the Planning Commission was presented with concern that the developers were not applying for LEED “Silver” certification for the project and that the proposed development appears to be failing in its method for waste water management of the site. Despite the developer’s assertions, the project may, in fact, be ineligible for LEED “Silver” standards set by the city.

Without deeply analyzing the niceties of wastewater management, the resistance to the 25th Street Station project appears to be mainly one of local vs. chain. But I am wrestling with the more basic regulatory concept of incentivizing inner city development because it is green, even if it does not embrace green building practices.

Work with me here. Cities are inherently green. One of my favorite New Yorker articles of all time was David Owen’s 2004 piece on why New York City is sustainable.

The argument for 25th Street Station’s green cred goes like this: “If the 25th Street Walmart project comes to fruition, your average Baltimorean will have greater access to retail within walking or short driving distance. No need to go to the suburbs to shop, wasting fossil fuel and requiring expensive additional infrastructure. In addition, it provides an amenity which makes inner city living more attractive.”

Weighed against that, of course, is the long-distance shipping of goods to WalMart, and potentially the non-green siting and construction practices. But the non-green practices and the long-distance shipping would exist wherever Walmart builds — in downtown Baltimore or in an exurban location.

Baltidome is rightly concerned that Baltimore’s green building regulations are not being enforced, and there is currently considerable stress on municipal budgets which are leading to green building programs being scaled back. In an era of severely constrained municipal finances, are we better off focusing on incentivizing urban development and renewal than specifying (and enforcing) green building practices?

Shari Shapiro, J.D., LEED AP, is an associate with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP in Philadelphia. Shari heads the company’s green building initiative. She also writes about green building and the law on her blog a http://www.greenbuildinglawblog.com, where this post originally appeared.

To see the article at Rueters, CLICK HERE.