DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — Taking a bite out of blight. A development company wants to tear down the old Seagram’s Distillery in Baltimore County and put homes on the Dundalk site.

Pat Warren reports there are a few hurdles to clear first.

A development group proposes a makeover with millions of dollars in new townhomes in the site of the former Seagram’s plant.

Fred Wanek lives near the Seagram’s Dundalk distillery.

“I been here all my life. I remember being three or four years old walking down the street and could smell the whiskey being aged,” Wanek says.

Now what he smells lately is fire.

“It caught fire several times and they’re damaged,” he said.

There have been several fires. Property has also been vandalized and, more tragically, two men killed in falls inside the abandoned buildings.

Cherie Smith is no danger to the needs of her community.

“Sixty years this year. I used to live here with my dad, then I bought a house over there. We love Dundalk. I know Dundalk gets a bad rap but it’s not true. We’re blue collar people who work hard and we have pride in our neighborhoods,” she said.

Councilman John Olszewski believes the development is the right move for the community.

“You’ll have individuals who live there; it’ll be people supporting the local businesses, individuals with higher income levels,” he said.

The site is zoned for 136 homes but the developer wants to build 196 homes. Wanek and Smith worry that would be too much of a good thing.

“That’s a good idea but they’re going to be little townhomes, 16-20 feet in width. That’s smaller than these here,” he said.

“Why do they want to jam 194 in there? That’s outrageous. They’re going to have one way in and one way out. It’s going to put all this extra traffic on Sollers Point Road,” she said.

But there are options.

“It’s not to say that at the end of the process they’ll get 196 units. It may be 175, maybe 180, but they’ll also have to give back a significant benefit that will benefit the surrounding community,” Olszewski said.

The process continues with supporters believing they can work through the objections of some of the residents.

Baltimore County Council will consider authorizing agencies to take a look at the proposal before it gets a hearing.

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