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Critics fight rezoning in Bel Air

Cite impacts of Klein family projects
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Posted at 4:06 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 19:18:08-04

BEL AIR, Md. — A push to expand the ShopRite store on Main Street in Bel Air has drawn praise from residents.

However, the Klein family’s plan for a mix-use center where historic homes stand today is drawing push back from townspeople, including Bart Bodt.

“When they were put before the planning commission for the Town of Bel Air, the proposed use was the renovation of Klein’s ShopRite so the documentation was misleading,” said Bodt, “and it wasn’t until they briefed the town commissioners that they revealed what the true plan was.”

Rezoning has already garnered the town leaders’ approval and that would allow developers to build up to four stories high, but opponents fear history will be sacrificed for more housing, more vehicles and more congestion in the small town.

Bodt’s first attempt at a petition drew over a thousand signatures, but that one was thrown out on a technicality.

He hopes to double that number by the end of the week to force the issue on to a ballot next year for the voters to decide.

“What I’ve asked the mayor of the Town of Bel Air, Kevin Bianca, is to provide us with financial analysis that shows that this is done and we’re going to reap a financial benefit,” said Bodt.

In a written statement, Bianca said, in part, “We must decide whether we are only going to look backwards, or if we are going to start looking forwards.”

The Klein family has pledged to seek community input, and says, “Please keep in mind that we are your decades-long friends and neighbors, not some out-of-town interloper developer.”