Since family patriarch Royal Brumwell Sr. died in 2008, his children have been telling Pasadena residents that the time would eventually come for them to sell their 22 acres of land that holds Brumwell’s Flea Market at the intersection of Mountain and Magothy Beach roads.
“It gets harder and harder to maintain with four owners, and the next generation would be nine or 10 owners, so it just keeps splitting like a molecule,” said Bonnie Brumwell Hoyas, who owns the land along with three siblings.
More than 200 people flocked to Kurtz’s Beach for a town hall meeting in September 2011 to share their concerns about the traffic a new development would bring with it, but the voices of angst grew silent in recent years with the flea market remaining untouched.
Now, people are listening again.
Curwood Pasadena LLC — a joint venture between Baltimore-based companies Birchwood Capital Partners and Curated Development Group — wants to buy the property and have it subdivided into a series of lots. Their current plan calls for 7.6 acres dedicated to 168 units of age-restricted townhomes and condos for ages 55 and up, 5.24 acres for a 158-bed assisted living facility, 3 acres for a 28,500-square-foot grocery store, less than 1 acre for a 2,600-square-foot coffee shop or other retail store, 1.2 acres for a fast food restaurant, and 1.6 acres for an access road, stormwater management and a forest conservation easement.
No leases have been signed, so the tenants could change, said David Strouse of Birchwood Capital Partners.
Brumwell Hoyas said her family has rejected many offers over the years, and accepted a few that never came to fruition, hoping to find the best fit for the town they call home.
“We see a need: there’s no assisted living in the area,” she said. “My brother and I are both in our 60s, one is mid-50s and the other will turn 50 this year. I have a lot of friends in this area who will want a place to go when they retire. And Pasadena could use another nice restaurant.”
Developers are required to notify residents within 300 feet of the property when a site development plan is submitted to the county, so a community meeting was held in December. Realizing that the outcome will affect all of Pasadena, Councilman Nathan Volke invited representatives from county and state agencies to Jacobsville Elementary School on January 14 to address constituent concerns.
As Planning and Zoning Officer Steve Kaii-Ziegler explained, the property is currently zoned C2, which allows the mixed-use proposal put forth by Curwood Pasadena LLC. Beyond that, the Office of Planning and Zoning still has much to determine before the project can proceed.
“The nuts and bolts have not been reviewed,” Kaii-Ziegler said, “… but it appears that the applicant will need a series of modifications.”
Now that the initial sketch plan has been submitted, the developer must ask for any modifications necessary to complete the project. Once those are approved or denied by the county, the developer will submit a final plan, and then the developer will need a grading plan and permits.
Ziegler called it a “relatively simple step-by-step process, however, the give and take, and ebb and flow of submittal and review, comments and resubmittal often takes many, many months to a year or two for a project of this nature.”
At the meeting, senior engineer Sarah Fowler said a traffic study would be conducted to determine the likely impact on Mountain Road and surrounding roads.
One Pasadena resident questioned why the land can’t be bought and turned into a county park.
“If we as community said we want to raise the money to buy this at fair market value and make this a county park, well, that’s something that’s been done before,” Volke said. “I think Quiet Waters was done that way. Downs Park I believe was done that way.”
Another attendee asked if Anne Arundel County can forbid the construction of a grocery store if there are several grocery stores nearby.
“The county can’t step in and say we have enough grocery stores and you two can come and you one can’t come,” Kaii-Ziegler said. “I understand the issue, but it is a part of the way our country was built, on competition, and it’s been around for as long as any of us have been alive.
“We don’t approve or deny projects on a popularity contest or whether people like them or don’t,” he added. “And I know that’s not probably an answer that many people want to hear. We approve and deny projects based on the laws, the codes, the regulations that the county council adopts for Anne Arundel County.”
The development is far from a done deal. Brumwell Hoyas said this is probably the seventh contract the family has agreed to in the last 15 years.
“Traffic has never been the reason they didn’t go through,” she said. “The economy turned, or the developer walked away and found a better site in real estate, and a couple developers couldn’t get the zoning changed.”
In response to the people who said the family is “selling out,” Brumwell Hoyas said she thinks the builders are going to do something great that will benefit Pasadena.
“A lot gets said about Section 8. We had an offer for that a few years ago and turned it down,” she said. “We want something nice for Pasadena. I’ve lived here my whole life, and my siblings and I know that property like the back of our hands. This is pretty personal for us.”