The Stemmer House (2627 Caves Road, Owings Mills, MD) was built c. 1761 and is one of Maryland’s outstanding Georgian houses. VPC is working with the community to protect this Baltimore County Historic Landmark and its environmental setting.
The new owner has filed a development plan to subdivide the beautiful 24+ acres of gardens into 5 lots (the historic house remains on a 3+ acre lot plus 4 new lots). VPC is opposing this inappropriate development that will negatively impact the Caves Valley National Register District. This proposed development will increase storm water run off and sediment in the North Branch of the Jones Falls. The Development Plan Hearings for Stemmer House concluded on March 24, 2016. The Administrative Law Judge(ALJ) denied the development plan because the developer did not submit RC5 performance standard materials to the planning office and the planning office did not provide the judge with any findings on those materials (as required). The developer filed a motion for reconsideration and the ALJ has now granted an order allowing the developer to submit the required materials to the Planning Office and reconvene the hearing. VPC is considering an appeal of this decision but will wait until the reconvened hearing is over and a new decision is issued.
What You Can Do:
1. Contact the Baltimore County Administrative Law Judge who has final approval authority on development plans submitted for consideration. Tell him not to approve this plan because a prior development plan with houses in this same location was denied in 2004 due to adverse impacts to the Caves Valley National Register District and storm water management/environmental issues. Send an email to Judge John E. Beverungen at email@example.com.
2. Make a tax-deductible contribution to VPC to help offset expenses related to this special project. VPC has retained an attorney and lined up numerous expert witnesses to testify at the hearing. Please send a check to VPC, PO Box 5402, Towson, MD 21285 and add “Stemmer House” in the memo line. Online contributions can also be made by clicking: http://www.thevpc.org/donate/special-project-donation/.
3. If you live in District 2, and want to help protect this property in the future, please contact Councilwoman Vicki Almond to urge her to down-zone the Stemmer property (CZMP Issue 2-024) to RC-7.
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via U.S. mail:
Please include your name and home address to let her know where you reside.
A sample letter to Councilwoman Almond is below for your convenience. Simply copy and paste it into your own email:
Dear Councilwoman Almond:
The proposed development of the Historic Stemmer property on Caves Road, owned by Howard Sugarman, raises great concerns for those of us who live in the valleys. This development of a Baltimore County Landmark property into 5 separate lots will have an adverse impact on the Caves Valley Historic District (a National Register Historic District) and will contribute to the environmental degradation of the North Branch of the Jones Falls and, ultimately, destroy the beautiful setting of this historic Georgian Style historic property.
The Valley Planning Council has requested the property be downzoned in the 2016 CZMP cycle from RC 5 to RC 7 to protect the rural nature of the area and preserve the very characteristics that make the district historic and a desirable place to live. The Caves Valley Historic District constitutes an irreplaceable cultural landscape with multiple natural resources including acres of mature forest and tributaries that drains into the Jones Falls watershed. Any development in this valley and its ridges will affect this environmentally sensitive ecosystem adversely.
The RC7 zoning is the appropriate classification for the Stemmer property as it was created to “protect and preserve total ecosystem function, including riparian and aquatic ecosystems,” and maintain the unique character of rural areas by preserving natural, and cultural, historic, architectural, and archaeological resources and scenic views.”
Your decision on the zoning of the Stemmer property quite literally will determine the fate of the Stemmer House, the integrity of Caves Valley Historic District and the quality of the Jones Falls watershed for decades to come. I urge you to recognize the unalterable consequences of development on this historic property and rezone it to RC7 in the 2016 CZMP cycle.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Background: VPC opposed a similar development proposal in 2004-05 where this property and an adjoining property were slated for development and the zoning commissioner denied the development based on adverse impacts to the Caves Valley Historic District and environmental issues regarding stormwater management and steep slopes. VPC and the neighbors have those same concerns for this current proposal as three of the four houses now proposed were denied in the prior decision.
Thank you for your interest in protecting the Caves Valley Historic District and for your generous support of VPC.