By Neil Rubin
Ted Levin is on the move.
When he’s not riding his motorcycle in the area, it’s hard to miss Mr. Levin. He might be jogging, greeting friends in an area eatery (Goldberg’s Bagels is a favorite) or walking the beat of “my precincts” while handing out fliers.
He is gregarious and experienced, having served 20 years in the Maryland House of Representatives while representing the Pikesville-Owings Mills-Randallstown areas.
His main issue: creating more livable communities.
Take, for example, the district’s commercial heart — Reisterstown Road, which stretches from the county-city line to Reisterstown.
“You have businesses and the only way to connect with them is if you hop in your car, and that’s particularly not good for business or for Pikesville people who say I don’t want to hop in the car and drive there,” he said. “We want people to be able to walk; Baltimore City is doing this and communities in Florida are doing this. They have the Circulator bus, where it’s no cost or minimal cost. There’s no bus service here that strictly serves the local area. Let’s say you could hop on a bus and go from Giant to the Trader Joe’s. You can’t do it now.”
He also wants a series of bike paths and sidewalks. In particular, that will help the area’s Orthodox community, which he said stabilizes Pikesville with young families.
If needed, he added, the county can make that happen by applying eminent domain laws to take “little strips of land.”
He continued, “My approach to Owings Mills is coming in and redeveloping the area. You have got Jim Smith and a countywide issue in Catonsville, Dundalk, Essex, where they come in and update retail establishments and get a box store, but the fundamentals have not changed. It’s the old model.
“You have to come in and say to heck with all this long-term solutions,” he said. “You have to talk to real estate planners. You plan it out long-term, but there’s a contradiction because things are done very innovatively and then every four years you have the zoning process, which can put in variances. … In Owings Mills the county is very proud of what it’s done. They have a corporate center and that’s great, but where do the people live?”
To counter such situations, he wants four- and five-story residences above stores in Pikesville, “like in the old East Baltimore days.”
It can happen, he said, because colleagues on the Council will let it happen.
“There’s a huge deference on the Council by others to the district [of the councilman making a suggestion,],” he said. “So there’s a tremendous opportunity to do good or evil and I’m looking to do good.”