RPCL joined a Request for Judicial Review of the Overlook at Roland Park PUD

On July 21st, 2017 Hap Cooper and Chris McSherry met with Mayor Catherine Pugh to ask her to veto the PUD legislation that was passed by the City Council to allow the construction of the Overlook at Roland Park. The mayor was not willing to do that and she signed the legislation that same day. We were disappointed because we viewed her as our first and last avenue to change the course of this proposed development.

The neighbors who will be most affected by the construction of that apartment building have filed a lawsuit asking for judicial review of the process used by the City Department of Planning and the City Council in approving the PUD, and the RPCL joined the petition for judicial review, so the matter is not settled yet.

The legislation was proposed by freshman City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer immediately after he was sworn in to the City Council. He had rushed the PUD legislation through the Planning Department and the City Council at such a record pace that the RPCL was not aware of the details of it until the eve of it passing the City Council.

Although PUDs are supposed to be used for the benefit of the community, this one wasn’t even reviewed by Roland Park or Mount Washington, two adjacent communities that will be significantly affected. We lobbied aggressively to delay the legislation so that we could weigh in on the proposed development, but no one in the City Council was willing to push that for us. The City Council has a tradition of “Councilmanic Courtesy”, whereby land use legislation in a particular council member’s district will not be questioned or resisted by other council member.

In light of the City Council’s tradition of deferring to the member in whose district the development stands, there was no actual review of this proposed PUD. We are hopeful that the Circuit Court will overturn the legislation because the Planning Department failed to notify the surrounding communities and failed to consider the impact on them and because the City Council failed to exercise the required “quasi-judicial review.”

Cycle Track Update – October 15, 2017

Roland Park Civic League representatives met with representatives of the Baltimore Department of Transportation on September 18 to discuss restoring curbside parking on Roland Avenue. We posted an update on the discussion on our website and on NextDoor.

There have been no further developments since the September 18 meeting with DOT, but we are working on scheduling another meeting for the week of October 23-27 to continue the conversation with the Director of the DOT, Michelle Pourciau.

Anne Stuzin and Chris McSherry reported on the meeting with Director Pourciau at the RPCL monthly meeting on October 4. The report was essentially the same as the update posted on the website.

DOT Report Released; Next Civic League Meeting

Attached is the DOT Roland Ave Study (Draft). This issue and others will be discussed at our next Civic League Board Meeting October 4, 2017, see Agenda; all are welcome to attend. Note the new temporary location for these meetings is North Baltimore Mennonite Church, 4615 Roland Avenue (at Oakdale) the first Wednesday of each month, 7-9PM. Contact a Plat Rep. for updates or to share concerns.

For additional background, see Cycle Track-Next Steps.

Cycle Track: Next Steps

by Hap Cooper

BOTTOM LINE: Representatives of the RPCL Board met with Michelle Pourciau, the new Director of the Department of Transportation (DDOT), and her staff to request restoration of curbside parking along Roland Avenue with a wider, safer bike lane.  Mrs. Pourciau was very receptive and suggested that our two teams stay in contact over the next several weeks as she digests all the relevant materials.  Michelle and her team committed to being ready to recommend next steps in 30 days—which we thought was reasonable given all the turnover in the department.

THE WHOLE STORY: In response to increasing pressure on the BCDOT from the RPCL, Sharon Middleton, convened a meeting on Monday, September 18th with the following participants:

Sharon Middleton (Council Representative, 6th District)
Robert Ginyard (from the Councilwoman’s office)
Michelle Pourciau (Director, Department of Transportation)
Veronica McBeth (Department of Transportation)
Graham Young (Department of Transportation)
Mary Kay Battafarano (RPCL, At Large Plat Rep)
Anne Stuzin (RPCL, 2nd Vice President)
Chris McSherry (RPCL, 1st Vice President)
Hap Cooper (RPCL, President)

The purpose of the meeting was for us to meet the new Director, provide some context, and request her help in restoring curbside parking along Roland Avenue immediately with a wider, safer bike lane.

Graham Young shared the DRAFT BCDOT traffic and intercept study beforehand and we brought copies of our resolution and research for the BCDOT team to take away. Mr. Young committed to having the final study ready for us to disseminate within the next week. Their study contained no surprises and the data essentially mirrored that of the study commissioned by our own committee.

The Director began the meeting by providing her background, which included transportation planning, engineering and community liaison work. She is the former Director of the Department of Transportation in Washington D.C.

Our group provided a detailed history of the Cycle Track discussion, implementation and results. We made it clear that although we welcomed the idea of a cycle track, the execution did not work and the goals were not achieved.  Roland Avenue is too narrow, cross streets are too frequent and debris is too prevalent for the track to function as it was envisioned.

Consequently, minor and major accidents have spiked and the community does not feel safe. Many cyclists will not ride in the narrow cycle track and getting out of a car into traffic can be terrifying—especially for seniors and parents with young children.  We impressed upon the Director that this is a highly charged and very emotional issue.

We also discussed the many anchor institutions along that stretch of Roland Avenue (churches, schools, clubs, restaurants, stores, the library, etc) and how each of them and their constituents have been negatively impacted by the cycle track—economically as well as from a safety perspective.

The former DDOT, William Johnson, and his staff repeatedly committed to Roland Park that the “cycle track is only paint” and if it doesn’t work, they would restore curbside parking. We reminded all the representatives at the meeting that we were holding the City to that commitment.

Director Pourciau listened intently, took notes and apologized that the Department had not been more responsive (she was not installed until a month after the RPCL Annual Meeting and cycle track vote). She recently visited Roland Avenue to see the street design first hand and confirmed that she understood our sense of urgency.

She told us that she has not seen our study and that the City’s study is not even final yet. She also mentioned that she has been barraged by multiple other priorities since taking office.  Consequently she asked if she and her staff could have 30 days to get their arms around all the information.  To her credit, she asked her staff members if 30 days would work for them and had each of them commit to that timeline.  She also encouraged us to communicate in the interim.

Councilwoman Middleton will reconvene the RPCL and BCDOT in mid-October to discuss a detailed action plan. We will continue to post updates on this site as progress continues.

(For background see Cycle Track Committee page)

Roland Park Civic League Meetings temporarily relocated

During construction at the Presbyterian Church, the September 2017 through April 2018 meetings of the Civic League will be held at the North Baltimore Mennonite Church, 4615 Roland Ave. Meetings will be held at the regular time (first Wednesday of the month, 7 PM.)  For dates, times and locations of RPCL meetings, please visit the Community Calendar.

Volunteer Opportunities in Roland Park

Roads & Maintenance

is in need of a new representative for Plat 2. If you’re not sure which Plat you live in, consult our Plat Map or contact Beth Hayes in the Roland Park office.

Requirements for Plat reps are:
– your own property is under covenant,
– you use a computer,
– you are willing to review in a timely manner applications submitted to R&M and to attend monthly evening meetings, held on the 4th Tuesday of each month, year round.

Architects are especially appreciated, but other thoughtful Roland Parkers are welcome. If interested. please contact [email protected]

Audit Committee

The Roland Park Civic League needs several resident members to form a new Audit Committee whose primary responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the financial reporting and disclosure process,
  • Monitoring choice of accounting policies and principles,
  • Overseeing hiring, performance and independence of external auditors,
  • Performing an annual audit

Candidates should have strong accounting experience and/or a CPA designation. Prior experience conducting audits is preferred. If interested, please contact [email protected]

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee is looking for a volunteer with strong bookkeeping experience or a CPA designation to join us. The Committee is responsible for the supervision of all business functions including the receipt of and disbursement of monies to and from the Civic League as well as the Roads and Maintenance Corporation. The Committee is also responsible for presenting an annual budget to the board for each entity. The Committee meets regularly (approx. 6 times a year) to review and approve the financials for both the Civic League and Roads & Maintenance.  If interested, please email [email protected]

Annual Openings

Every January-March nominations for Plat Rep. openings and Officers are pursued to be elected in May at the Annual Meeting of the Civic League membership. Please submit nominations to the Chair of the Nominating Committee by email: [email protected]

All residents are encouraged to get involved as volunteers are always needed. Please peruse both the standing and ad hoc committees to consider where your interest and experience may be a good fit.

ApplicationComing Soon (please check back).

Please Contact the Mayor on the Overlook PUD Bill

From the Civic League President:

Although we were hopeful, on Monday the City Council approved the PUD Bill for the Overlook at Roland Park development. It took less than 2 minutes and there was no discussion. Now the bill goes to Mayor Catherine Pugh to sign or veto- she can sign it at any time. So once again, we ask you to stand up for our community and take action!
Here is what we need you to do every day until the Mayor meets with our RPCL President Hap Cooper. Please make this a part of your everyday routine for the next week or two! The Mayor counts the number of contacts, so let’s make our voices heard, every day. This can make a big difference!


  1. Call the Mayor at 410-396-3835
  2. Email the Mayor at [email protected]
  3. Tweet the Mayor at @mayorpugh50
  4. Fax the Mayor at 410-576-9425

Some suggestions to choose from as to why you are against the Overlook PUD bill (choose whatever appeals to you and feel free to add your own ideas/concerns!):

  1. The traffic congestion and accidents at the Falls/Northern intersection make it one of the worst in the City. More development in that intersection is dangerous.
  2. The process did not include your neighborhood. Why weren’t we included?
  3. The process was rushed so the surrounding communities were not informed/not enough time to evaluate and react. The traffic study came in 15 minutes before it was voted on. Why the hurry?
  4. The City Councilman (Yitzy Schleifer) seems to be rewarding one of his largest donors instead of representing his constituents. Why is he putting his constituents behind the interests of one business?
  5. Neighborhoods first, developers second. Stand up for us, the voters.

Thanks for your continued support! We are counting on the Mayor to stand up for this neighborhood, which means so much to this City.

Community Gathering for Overlook PUD – June 19th 7:30 AM

COMMUNITY GATHERING TOMORROW MORNING June 19th 0730 Northern Pkwy and Falls Road.

Following is an urgent message from Hap Cooper, President of the Roland Park Civic League

Dear Roland Park Neighbors,Good Evening–I hope everyone is enjoying Father’s Day! Join us tomorrow morning at a mega-neighborhood gathering at NP & Falls to send an URGENT message to the Mayor!

Those of you who drive through the congested intersection at Northern Parkway and Falls Road probably know that the City Council will pass a bill tomorrow afternoon permitting the development of a 148-unit out-sized apartment highrise at that F-rated intersection–which is at 114% of capacity on the way to 120%.

For those of you concerned with potential overcrowding in the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School–children in this new development would be sent to RPEMS.

Only a small percentage of neighbors were consulted about the project and the adjacent communities of Roland Park and Mt Washington were not contacted at all. So join us by 7:30a tomorrow morning at Northern Parkway and Falls to send a message to the City that neighborhoods matter. Process matters.
The Mayor will have the bill on her desk as early as tomorrow evening, as it’s been fast-tracked and rubber-stamped through City Hall. We must convince her that a large majority of the surrounding neighborhoods oppose the bill until we can assess the impact of the development on our communities.

If it’s the right project for that intersection now, it will still be right in a month or two when we all understand how we’ll be affected. SEE YOU TOMORROW.

Urgent Call to Action – Rezoning for Overlook at Roland Park

Dear Roland Park Neighbors,
All hands on deck. We need your help in the next four days. ASAP please!

A major high-rise housing development is set to be approved by the City Council on Monday, June 19th. The development is called Overlook at Roland Park, and often referred to as Belvedere 2. A freshman City Councilman, Yitzy Schleifer, has worked closely with the developer to fast track this project through City Hall. It will be located at one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections of the City, Falls Road and Northern Parkway.

Mt. Washington and Roland Park, the two largest neighborhoods adjacent to the property, were not included in the process, only the two small neighborhoods above the proposed development (North Roland Park and Poplar Hill). In the past week, the Mt. Washington Improvement Association and the Roland Park Civic League both voted against the development, primarily because of the lack of knowledge. The majority of residents in North Roland Park and Poplar Hill have signed petitions opposing the project. We must stop the rezoning process, called a PUD, until all affected communities have time to study the project. If the project is as good as the developer says it is, then it will be just as good in 60 days after we have all had a chance to understand what the project actually is.

If you want more details about the project, go to the website www.stopthepud.com. Also, please see the attached press release from the Roland Park Civic League.
Here is what we need you to tell our elected officials-
1. Tell them your name and that you are a city resident
2. Ask them to put the PUD legislation on hold (Officially Bill 17-0049)
3. Tell them that the affected neighborhoods need time to learn more.
4. A sample email might include Dear Mayor Pugh, I am a resident of North Baltimore and I am asking that you slow down the PUD zoning for the Overlook at Roland Park so that the communities affected have a chance to learn about the project. Adding a large high rise housing unit at one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in the city deserves a careful look. Please give us the chance to learn more. Sincerely, _________

Here is who we need you to tell-
1. Call, email, fax and/or tweet Mayor Catherine Pugh: [email protected] 410-396-4900 or 410-396-3835,  @mayorpugh50,  Fax #410-396-3798
2. Call, email, fax and/or tweet Council President Jack Young: [email protected], 410-396-4804 @prezjackyoung Fax #410-539-0647
3. Call, email, fax and/or tweet Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer:  [email protected] 410-396-4819 @councilmanYitzy Fax#410-396-6800
4. Sign the online petition at change.org

It will take all of us to get this done, please step up and share with others!

Letter from RPCL to Sharon Green Middleton Opposing the PUD for Overlook at Belvedere

At the monthly meeting of Roland Park Civic League Board for this past Thursday, June 8, various stakeholders spoke about the proposed Overlook development near the intersection of Falls Road and Northern Parkway.

A representative from Blue Ocean Realty, the developer proposing the 132 unit, six-story tower spoke at the meeting, as did Hunter Cochrane, organizer of  https://stopthepud.com/ opposing the development. After a general discussion on the topic with comments and questions from residents of Roland Park and Mt. Washington, the board voted to take a position opposing the development.

On Friday June 9,  Roland Park Civic League President formally expressed the opposition in a letter directed to City Council Member Sharon Green-Middleton, and copied to Mayor Catherine Pugh, City Council President Jack Young, State Delegate Peter Hammen, and City Councilmembers Mary Pat Clarke and Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer.

A copy of the letter is available here: RPCL Letter to City Councilmemner Sharon Green-Middleton et al Opposing Belvedere 2 PUD