Regarding Arthur Hirsch's thorough article ("Plans for old distillery stir controversy in Dundalk," May 3), I would submit some additional relevant information.
First, the rezoning of the property as requested by developer John Vontran and the meetings that were conducted on his behalf by the Dundalk Renaissance Corp. raise concerns. One of those meetings was a private one held at the DRC. That meeting was announced in an e-mail to selected members of the community sent by Scott Holupka, a board member of the DRC and a member of the Baltimore County Planning Board. It should be noted that Mr. Holupka sat on the zoning board during the hearings pertaining to the Seagram's property.
Next, is the relationship between Councilman John A. Olszewski Sr. and Mr. Vontran. Councilman Olszewski's Planned Unit Development, submitted whenJames T. Smith Jr. served as county executive, authorized the county to purchase the Yorkway Apartments and demolish them for $21 million. Mr. Vontran acquired the property in a bid process for $1.65 million. Both Councilman Olszewski and the DRC supported this Yorkway development. Mr. Holupka bought a house in Mr. Vontran's development. Mr. Vontran contributed thousands of dollars to Mr. Olszewski's campaign.
The article mentioned that the DRC "has sent letters urging the county to consider the commercial potential of the North Point site" which they say "could accommodate 'big box retailers.'" This is questionable, at best, as Best Buy is closing 50 of it big box stores due to competition from online shopping. The future of other such stores is in doubt.
Another issue is the observation made by county spokeswomen Ellen Kobler who is quoted as saying, "The county has no immediate plans to do anything with the government center." This is a direct contrast to her earlier reply in another news publication where she was quoted as stating, "We are assessing the future of the North Point Government Center as part of a comprehensive review of all county facilities. We're considering whether [North Point] might be relocated any time in the future."
The bottom line is that a zoning change greatly enhances the value of the Mr. Vontran's property despite the other rhetoric.
Buzz Beeler, Dundalk