The Baltimore County Board of Appeals stopped the controversial Red Maple Place Development in Historic East Towson. (Courtesy photo)

Will Schwarz
President, Maryland Lynching Memorial Project
Special to the AFRO

I am writing to tell you about an important development in the ongoing saga of the proposed Red Maple Place project in Towson.

Earlier today, the Baltimore County Board of Appeals delivered a stunning victory for the Historic East Towson community when it reversed an earlier decision by an administrative law judge and stopped the controversial Red Maple Place development from moving forward.

The reversal is a major victory for the Historic East Towson community that has vehemently opposed the plans to build a 56-unit affordable housing in the last remaining green space in the neighborhood, threatening the neighborhood itself with extinction.

The community was founded in the mid-19th century by freed slaves from the Ridgely estate. Descendants of the original founders still live in the neighborhood which has been damaged and diminished by a series of unwanted development projects over the years. In its deliberations, the Board of Appeals recognized the historic nature of the neighborhood and the deleterious effects of these incursions.

The decision is certainly a significant victory for Historic East Towson. But it also signals a growing awareness that history matters and a recognition that patterns of systemic racism must be considered when development decisions are being made that impact historic Black communities.

The developer, Homes for America, headquartered in Annapolis, still has options if it chooses to appeal, although today’s decision suggests the prospects for any appeal are dim.

“I couldn’t be more thankful for this morning’s decision,” said Nancy Goldring, President of the Northeast Towson Improvement Association, who has led the fight against Red Maple Place from the beginning. “This has been a wild ride, and the outcome has been worth every ounce of energy we all brought to bear in this contest of wills… the will of the people, the power and pull of history, the will to see justice prevail. “

We have maintained that the Red Maple Place issue is not about affordable housing but rather is an issue of social justice. We commend the Board of Appeals for recognizing the difference in its ruling today.

There is a long list of individuals and organizations who contributed to this result. We thank and commend you all.

Truth first.

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