Plans to create an urban renewal district in South Baltimore have been denied by the city's Planning Commission, arguing that forcibly removing residents and businesses is not a reasonable method for saving the neigborhood.
"In a rebuff to city economic development officials, Baltimore's Planning Commission has refused to approve creation of an urban renewal district in the West Covington area of South Baltimore, saying redevelopment plans should go forward but condemnation should not be used to forcibly displace thriving businesses and occupied homes."
"Panel members voted, 7-1, late Thursday not to recommend an urban renewal bill that would enable the city to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the mostly industrial property on 50 acres along the eastern shore of the Middle Branch and offer it for a privately developed mixed-use project. Members questioned whether the city should be condemning nonblighted properties whose owners were united in opposition."
"The rejection comes at a time when the city and its economic development agency, the Baltimore Development Corp., have faced successful challenges to its efforts to take property. Last year, the state's highest court dealt the city back-to-back blows in rulings that said its use of speeded-up "quick take" condemnations was not justified."
"In rejecting the West Covington plan, the commissioners said the area, bounded by Interstate 95 on the north, Hanover Street on the east and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River on the west, offers a rare opportunity to assemble and remake a large tract of waterfront land near downtown."