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Red Maple Place Gets Green Light

John Lee

The clash between residents of an historically African American neighborhood in East Towson and the developer of an affordable housing complex may be over.

Administrative Law Judge Maureen Murphy ruled Monday that Red Maple Place can be built. It will be a 56-unit complex at the intersection of Joppa Road and Fairmount Avenue on the edge of East Towson.

“I find that the developer has satisfied its burden of proof,” Murphy wrote in her conclusion. Administrative law judges settle zoning and land use issues in Baltimore County.

Opponents of Red Maple have 30 days to appeal the decision.

Dana Johnson, the president of Homes for America, a non-profit company that is developing Red Maple, said the goal is for people to move into the complex in the summer of 2022.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had some conflict over this with our neighbors, but we will be committed to being good neighbors during the construction process as well as once the building is complete,” Johnson said.

Some of the residents of East Towson, including Nancy Goldring, are descendants of slaves who once labored at Hampton Plantation in Baltimore County. In an interview with WYPR last fall, Goldring described Red Maple as a big brick beast that will dominate the neighborhood.

At a hearing before the judge in January, Goldring said that the project was irresponsible.

“I totally do not understand the need to destroy one community to bring another one into being,” she said. 

At that same hearing, Anthony Fugett, the past president of the Baltimore County branch of the NAACP, spoke in favor of Red Maple. He said the county has a horrific history when it comes to affordable housing.

“If you say, ‘not in my neighborhood,’ and you use that as an argument per se, then you have to accept that argument anywhere,” Fugett said. “That’s something that as a branch we couldn’t accept, so we had to be in favor of the Red Maple development.”

In 2016, Fugett, representing the NAACP, signed on to an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development that settled a housing discrimination complaint against Baltimore County. It legally obligates the county to create 1,000 affordable housing units over 15 years. Red Maple’s 56 units would help the county whittle away at that number.

Johnson said, “The county, and really the nation as a whole has a huge affordable housing crisis at this moment. If we’re going to make real headway in addressing this crisis, we all are going to need to make room for affordable multi-family buildings, particularly in areas of opportunity like Towson.”


John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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