A SHORT SUMMARY OF THE ISSUES ADDRESSED BY
Old Court Greenspring Improvement Association, Inc. (OCGS)
Since its founding in 1962
It is hard to believe that OCGS has now reached its 61st year of proactively watching over and enhancing the safety, stability, and infrastructure of our community as well as assuring that its growth would be consistent with its historic character. As we approach this major milestone a brief history of our accomplishments seems in order.
From the beginning, the basic boundaries of OCGS have been along Old Court Road – from Park School to Lightfoot Drive (south side of Old Court Road) and Stevenson Crossing Condominiums (north side of Old Court Road) – to the Beltway and encompassing all of the streets and developments with access to that section of Old Court Road. We now number nearly 250 residences with the addition of 24 new homes now under construction at The Courts of Hidden Waters.
PERHAPS THE MAJOR CHALLENGE OCGS faced in its early years, and still faces, is that there was an abundance of open land near major highways (I-695 and I-83), schools and other institutions and without careful oversight it was unlikely that this land would be developed in accordance with the history and character of the area.
The Old Court-Greenspring Improvement Association, Inc. (OCGS) was incorporated on February 21, 1962. Since then, much has been accomplished to keep the area at least somewhat rural. Below are some of the challenges OCGS successfully navigated:
2020 TO DATE
HIDDEN WATERS FARM: The Farm is now in operation with chickens, cows and pigs onsite as well as honey bee hives located near the back of their farm property. Their cows and chickens are visible from time to time if you drive along Old Court Road. Their marketplace is in operation, and their first crops should be planted this year (2023) on 7 acres of their 110 acres of Historic Hidden Waters.
The Courts of Hidden Waters: This new 24 house development is currently under construction along Old Court Road. Under development by Caruso Homes, infrastructure for the development is complete and Caruso Homes will have its model home available for viewing by late spring 2023. Houses are being built as they are sold.
WALKING PATH ALONG OLD COURT ROAD: Over the years OCGS has been part of several efforts to obtain a safe walking path along Old Court Road for residents who observe the Sabbath by not driving. The first successful portion was constructed by the state from Lightfoot Drive to Torah Drive, joining with the existing sidewalk that ended at Hidden Waters.
More recently, as part of the PUD agreement for Old Court Crossing, a walking path has been built along the south side of Old Court Road which ends at the entrance to Hidden Waters Farm. And a bicycle and walking lane has been incorporated into the state mandated acceleration / deceleration lanes now in place for The Courts of Hidden Waters.
2010 – 2020
SUBDIVISION THREAT ALONG OLD COURT RD: By 2010 the Old Court Road area east of Greenspring was under threat of substantial subdivision as there was turnover by the owners of the large estates. Because there was neither sewer nor water available, the number of potential lots was limited but the threat became real with a proposed development of 2801 Old Court Road. This battle was waged in different forums – an ALJ Hearing in January 2012, and an, appeal to the Circuit Court in November that was successfully argued by our attorney Carroll Holzer, up until 2021 when 2801 was finally sold to a family that has no plans to develop the property further, for which we are very grateful.
TRAFFIC & SAFETY: Since its inception OCGS has been concerned about the safety of Old Court Road and Greenspring Avenue, both for pedestrians and traffic,. Because Old Court Road is a state road we must deal both with the county and state to address issues. In 2012 accident reports for our area were finally received from Baltimore County Police Precinct 4 and this eventually led to the addition of the traffic circle at Green Summit and Rockland Hill Road and more importantly rumble strips were requested along Old Court Road near Park School and Beth T’filoh. These were approved for installation and are still in place.
PANHANDLE LOTS: An issue that was of importance because of the potential for development of open land available in our area was the use of “panhandles” rather than through streets to allow higher density without standard infrastructure. To deal with this OCGS, along with PGCC, supported passage of Baltimore County Council Bill 12-13 approved in March 2013 by the County Council. This bill regulates how “panhandle” developments are handled in Baltimore County and was passed to prevent some over building and preserve larger lot sizes. The Bill went into effect on April 1, 2013 and has been very successful in achieving its goal.
THE 2016 CZMP: The Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) is a quadrennial process whereby the County Council reviews and revises the zoning throughout Baltimore County. It actually begins the year preceding the decision-making year and provides significant opportunity for community input. One issue of concern to OCGS and PGCC in the 2016 process continued to be zoning on the 54 acre “Shapiro” property along Old Court Road directly across from Beth T’filoh. In a preemptory move, PGCC, with input from OCGS, requested that the entire 54-acre property be downzoned from DR2 (2 houses per acre) to DR1 (1 house per acre) in order to limit development to the 45-house development approved in 2009. While this request was not granted until the 2020 CZMP, the development of the property is now limited to one house per acre. Beazer Homes has developed 32 houses on the property with 14 additional building lots in limbo.
HIDDEN WATERS THREATENED: In 2016 another issue of even greater concern was Issue 2-029 – The Bozzuto Group requested that the 136-acre property known as Hidden Waters, along Old Court Road, be rezoned from DR1 (1 house / acre) to DR3.5 (3.5 houses / acre) in order to allow for potential development of at least 24 acres with at least 50 housing units. After a hard-fought battle led by OCGS to stop this monumental change to our community, this request was denied, and zoning was retained at DR1 on the entire property. Currently there is a 24-lot subdivision being developed by Caruso Homes on this property which will finally put this parcel to rest.
GREENSPRING AVENUE: In 2018 We began working with Greenspring East HOA residents to deal with a proposed development on 3 previously undeveloped (and, we believed, un-developable) lots beyond the end of Springbriar Lane. However, in 2017 a developer applied to develop these lots using a county access road off Greenspring Avenue as entrance to the lots. Believing it was both a traffic hazard and had the potential to create serious runoff problems, OCGS and PGCC began unsuccessful efforts to help thwart their development. Nevertheless, in 2018 Old Court Gardens, the 3-lot proposed development beyond Spring Briar Lane, was reviewed by various County departments at the behest of both OCGS, Greenspring East HOA and PGCC resulting in some safeguards being put in place to protect downhill residents from damage resulting from development at this location.
2000 – 2021
Old Court Road, Greenspring Avenue, Park Heights Avenue and Stevenson Road:
PGCC and OCGS members have made several comments and suggestions regarding the roads and intersections in our area. Working with SHA and Baltimore County officials the following were accomplished:
*Lights were added to the Greenspring Avenue underpass at the Beltway (I-695)
*The hill and front of the gate at the monopole site on Greenspring Avenue was landscaped.
*Traffic signal was installed at the I-695 inner loop exit ramp.
*Silver traffic equipment cabinet located at the southeast corner of Greenspring Avenue and Old Court Road was landscaped.
*Lane tripping on southbound Greenspring Avenue was changed to allow two lanes through the signal at the new traffic signal at the I-695 exit ramp.
*PGCC and OCGS continue to meet with SHA and Baltimore County officials regarding the roads, intersections and traffic lights in our area.
Old Court, LLC Property: (aka The Shapiro Property on Old Court Road). This property is east of Lightfoot Drive and across Old Court Road from Stevenson Crossing.
Zoning Commissioners Decision: Development will consist of 46 single family houses, 45 will be of new construction. The property is zoned DR2 on 53 acres that could have allowed 2 houses per acre. The Zoning Commissioner’s Decision of 46 single-family homes is basically DR1, one house per acre.
The Ridge at Old Court Road: A proposed development on 7.7 acres at 2801 Old Court Road just east of Springbriar Lane. The property, zoned DR1 (one house per acre) contains one house. The would-be developer, Five M LLC proposed building an additional 5 houses.
RESOLUTION (2022): OCGS strongly opposed the request for development at this site due to severe topographical conditions which restricted developable land to 3 acres. The property has now been purchased by an individual who plans to maintain it as his family’s residence with no further plans for development.
1990 – 2000’s
Beth Tfiloh Congregation of Baltimore City proposed two plans for their Old Court Road campus during the 1990’s: A proposal for a housing development in 1992, and a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in 1995. The community defeated both proposals. OCGS, with several homeowner associations in the area, form the Beth Tfiloh Coalition and worked together to defeat the PUD for a mid-rise Elderly Housing and Assisted Living (80 bed) Development Plan.
RESOLUTION: An agreement was signed between Beth Tfiolh Congregation of Baltimore City and neighboring community associations and individuals on September 25, 2000. Thde settlement agreement with Covenants allows for five single-family homes along Old Court Road and the mid-rise condominiums now built at the rear of the Beth Tfiloh property near Stevenson Village, Stevenson Post and Stevenson Crossing. OCGS is not a signatory to the settlement as OCGS does not border the Beth Tfiloh campus.
The Trees Development for 5 single family homes: The original Trees Development on Old Court Road and Branchwood Court was opposed by OCGS and it was never built. This proposal was for 2 houses on the southeast corner of Old Court Road and Branchwood Court, and four houses down a long narrow road off Old Court Road for a total of seven houses on the original Patz property. The Arundel Corporation submitted a request that the proposed narrow road become a public road to allow direct access to the quarry property. OCGS opposed the road before the Baltimore County Court of Appeals. The Arundel Corporation request was denied.
RESOLUTION: The Trees Development was approved for two houses, and the southeast corner of Branchwood Court was designated a forest conservation area. Extensive landscaping has been planted on the corner by its current owners, Erika and Lew Schon, which adds to the beauty of our area.
Telecommunication Tower: AT&T proposed building a 50 foot telecommunication tower at the northeast corner of Old Court Road and Greenspring Avenue that would accommodate up to four additional telecommunication companies. AT&T requested and received several special exceptions and variances by the Baltimore County Zoning Commissioner that OCGS appealed.
RESOLUTION: OCGS contacted the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and, after numerous discussions with SHA and AT&T, it was agreed that the tower would be located on SHA property on Greenspring Avenue adjacent to I-695, and that the area would be gated and landscaped.
Proposed Kennel at 7800 Greenspring Avenue just north of the entrance to I-695. As this property was located adjacent to our association, OCGS supported the Valley Planning Council’s position to defeat the proposed kennel before the Baltimore County Zoning Commissioner. The kennel proposal was denied.
RESOLUTION: Legislation that animal kennels not be permitted in residential areas was introduced by 2nd District County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz and subsequently was passed into law by the Baltimore County Council.
Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition, Inc. (PGCC). In 1998 OCGS helped to organize, and was a founding member of, PGCC. The Coalition presently has 20 member associations. PGCC’s Greenspring Quarry Committee was formed to closely monitor the proposed development within the Arundel Quarry. This development is required to abide by the 1984 covenants.
1980 – 1990
The Arundel Greenspring Quarry Bituminous Asphalt Plant, built without any notification to the community, was removed.
RESOLUTION: An agreement was reached in 1984 which resulted in Covenants and a Reclamation Plan for the zoning of all the Arundel Quarry land at Greenspring Avenue. The bituminous asphalt plant was closed on 11/13/1986, the ready-mix concrete plant was closed on 12/31/1992, and all Quarry operations ceased on 12/31/1999.
Arundel Corporation Quarry Trucks on Old Court Road from Falls Road to Greenspring Avenue:
RESOLUTION: OCGS, working with the Maryland State Highway Administration, was successful in having Old Court Road posted with a weight limit that stopped the Arundel Quarry trucks from using Old Court Road from Greenspring Avenue to Falls Road.
1970 – 1980
The Rouse Company Proposed Development at Old Court Road and Falls Road. The Rouse Company proposed a Cross Keys type community at Old Court and Falls Roads. OCGS, working with the Ruxton-Riderwood Association, was able to defeat the proposed development.
RESOLUTION: The Rockland homes were built on this site.
The Arundel Corporation and Shop of Pennsylvania Proposal to build a very large shopping center and multiple high-rise buildings in the Arundel Greenspring Quarry was defeated. OCGS, along with the Smith-Greenspring Association, worked to defeat the proposed development. Arundel Rock continued to mine the Quarry. However, the Arundel Corporation sold their property on the east side of Greenspring Avenue.
RESOLUTION: The Greengate housing development was built.
1962 – 1970
The Eden Roc development along Old Court Road west of Greenspring Avenue was built out by individuals who purchased lots from developers Schnaper & Koren. Some houses were already built along Old Court Road to the east of Greenspring Avenue, and one or two houses were already built along Old Court Road to the east of Eden Rock, and Branchwood Court also had a few houses built at about this time. Residents of the newly developed Eden Roc subdivision felt it was important to establish OCGS to be sure they would have a say in future development of the area.