A block of neighborhood-minded Baltimore residents has pressured the city's zoning board to reject a plan to create a community service center nearby that offers job training and AIDS counseling, despite the area's need for economic investment.
"They appeared en masse at a zoning board hearing to oppose an application by the influential, 2,000-member Southern Baptist Church to turn a vacant, church-owned rowhouse on the block into a multipurpose service center. Church representatives said the project would offer help in a number of areas, including job-readiness training and counseling for relatives of AIDS patients."
"After listening to residents express fears that the center could bring traffic, trash and loitering to a block they worked so hard to maintain, the board voted unanimously to reject the church's appeal for a zoning change that would have allowed it to open."
"Eric Booker, a community leader in the area who was among those opposing the center, said the zoning decision sends a wider message to those who live in the long-neglected neighborhood of the impact of civic engagement. It's also a signal to others that residents still need to be brought on board before projects are undertaken, notwithstanding the area's widespread decay, he said."