Crossroad of Contention

The rebuilding of the Royal Farms store on the corner of Old Pimlico Road and Smith Avenue has begun, but it is unknown when the sidewalk will be built. (Justin Katz)
The rebuilding of the Royal Farms store on the corner of Old Pimlico Road and Smith Avenue has begun, but it is unknown when the sidewalk will be built. (Justin Katz)

After concern was voiced by several residents in the area, Royal Farms has agreed to proceed with the construction of a sidewalk in front of its store at Old Pimlico Road and Smith Avenue.

“Royal Farms has agreed to do the sidewalk as long it doesn’t cost them too much,” said Dennis Kennedy, chief of development plans review for Baltimore County’s Department of Permits, Approval and Inspections.

The county has agreed to cooperate with Royal Farms. However, there is no time estimate on when the construction will take place. Kennedy has been in correspondence with residents about the issue, and last month, Royal Farms released a statement.

“We heard the pleas from the community, and because we want to be a good neighbor and have a good working relationship with the community and the county, we have agreed to proceed with including a sidewalk, subject to approvals and a defined scope,” said Brittany Eldredge, public relations manager for Royal Farms, in a written statement. “This sidewalk is being completely funded by Royal Farms, as the landlord declined to contribute.”

Much of the concern has been raised by residents in the area who use both of the roads to walk to the local synagogues. The corner of the intersection also serves as a bus stop, which further increases the foot traffic.

“People are walking on the street with their families; [there are] children, strollers and wheelchairs,” said Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, who runs the Chabad center on Old Pimlico Road. “Even if [Royal Farms isn’t] required to, doing something to accommodate the community is just good business for them. If [Royal Farms] wants people to walk to their location as well, it just makes sense to make it safe.”
Louis Leder is a resident who lives across from Royal Farms and has been voicing his concern about the issue for more than a month.

“At night when people are coming home, they are walking in the dark, it’s very dangerous,” said Leder. “The synagogue was required to put in a sidewalk. We’d like [Royal Farms] to be a good neighbor and put a
sidewalk along those streets,”

Although Royal Farms’ initial plans were to renovate the store, after finding structural issues with the building, it decided to rebuild it entirely.

However, Royal Farms is not required by law to implement a sidewalk because it leases the property, and its construction is not classified as new development. This also means it can forego much of the county’s
approval process for new buildings, according to District 2 Councilwoman Vicki Almond.

“I appreciate the advocacy by the community, and if [the sidewalk] doesn’t happen, then I’ll put it in my capital request for next year’s budget,” said Almond.

The capital request, Almond explained, allows for councilmembers to request money be set aside in the yearly budget for different projects in their respective districts.

Joseph Statman, a resident of the area, has been a part of the community voicing concern over the roads. He has heard some people suggest that pedestrians use the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road, but he thinks the notion is ridiculous.

“The sidewalk that is there is narrow, inadequate and filled with shrubbery,” said Statman.

Leder noted that the corner of the intersection already has a wheelchair ramp and a crosswalk signal.

Upon hearing about the statement from Royal Farms Leder was pleased with the store and Kennedy in

“Thank God. People will be safer because now we’ll have a sidewalk to walk on,” said Leder. “[Kennedy] was very accessible to me and very amenable to the idea. He’s a good guy.”

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