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.”