News And Projects

SIGN Issues

New ? Illegal Signs at the Social, Charles St

During October 2023, the Social Apartments erected four signs advertising parking around its property along West 39th Street and Charles Street advertising a side business of parking.

As this newsletter (November 18, 2023) goes to press, most of the signs had been removed except one along their driveway on Charles Street and one along their driveway on W 39th Street. There is a 3rd sign affixed to their building and visible from W 39th Street.

TCNA contacted our City planner, Marie Anderson about the sign issue. When informed of the signs, Marie Anderson, noted that the Social is not permitted to run a parking business in our residential (R10) neighborhood; thus the city had cited and fined the Social. The Social will be fined every 30 days until they cease running a parking business or until they apply for and get a special permit for that activity.

Whether the signs are permitted at all remains an important related issue.

At the same time, we note that the Ambassador Dining Room within the Ambassador apartment house has placed A-frame signs at the intersections of 39th Street and Canterbury Road as well as at University Boulevard and Canterbury Road. These may also be disallowed under zoning ordinances. TCNA is currently reviewing all the signs in the neighborhood.

Zoning exception requested for a 28 foot tall sign at the Academy (Case# BMZ2022 00434)

April 18: TCNA was notified about the proposed huge, illuminated sign at 3700 North Charles. TCNA contacted the Northern District Planner for more information and advised her to contact the St. James Condo Association.

April 25: The St. James Condo Association announced they are vigorously opposing this request and planned to hire a lawyer.

April 26: TCNA received additional information from the Planning Department about the sign and current zoning information.

May 2: TCNA contacted Councilwoman Odette Ramos to express opposition to the sign and got suggestions about how to proceed.

May 3: TCNA Board unanimously supported the St. James Association in opposing this request.

May 6: TCNA sent a special ACTION ALERT to 630 neighbors requesting everyone to send emails opposing the sign immediately and posted information about the sign on the TCNA website.

May 20: TCNA May newsletter included more information about the proposed sign and again requested neighbors to get others to support the effort.

Throughout May: The Planning Department and BMZA received at least 100 emails from all parts of the neighborhood and beyond.

May 31: TCNA talked to the Academy management and was advised that the project was on hold indefinitely. No hearing and no further action are required.

Thank you to everyone who helped with this effort. Without the quick notification from Marie Anderson, the City Planner, the neighborhood effort would not have happened as quickly as it did.
Update May 31st. 
Plans for the sign have been discontinued.  See email from the area manager below:

I wanted to touch base regarding the concern about the signage application for The Academy on Charles. At this time, due to the opposition, we have indefinitely placed this project on hold and will not be proceeding with appealing the opposition.

April 25 Analysis

April 2023

Request for an Illuminated Projecting Wall Sign at The Academy, 3700 N Charles Street.  i.e. an Illuminated Projecting Vertical Sign: 4 feet wide and 28 feet tall

  • Total sign face 112 sq feet on each side of sign
  • 2 sided illuminated sign
  • Baltimore City Zoning Limit: 12 square feet (per sign face) in R8-R10 zone
  • The request is for a 933% variance.
  • Subsection 5-308 Zoning Code

(page 103 Section5 contains Variances)

Information from the Baltimore City Department of Planning (April 25, 2023)

 The “illuminated projecting wall sign” would be vertically-oriented, 48” wide (but up to 74” from outer side to building face) by 336” tall, totaling 172.66 square feet of visual presence but 112 square feet of actual sign face.  (As a two-sided or back-to-back sign, only one face is counted toward the Zoning Code limit.)  The sign would be internally illuminated and supported by four mounting brackets bolted through the building wall.  In the R-8 through R-10 zoning districts, projecting signs above ground floor level are limited to 12 square feet (per sign face), thus this is a request for a 933% variance.  The applicant would need to show the BMZA that approval of a variance would be justified in accordance with subsection 5-308 of the Zoning Code.


Details of Proposed Sign


April 26: Status Re Zoning Variance Application

Zoning dates and dockets: ** Tentative docket

NOT ON SCHEDULE: May 2, 2023 Docket Minutes
NOT ON SCHEDULE: May 16, 2023** Docket Minutes
NOT ON SCHDULE:    June 6, 2023** Docket Minutes
June 20, 2023 Docket Minutes
July 18, 2023 Docket Minutes

 General Zoning Board Information

Hearing Location.

All BMZA hearings are held in the Benton Building, 417 E. Fayette Street, in the 8th floor Planning Department Boardroom.

Hearing Schedule. Public hearings shall be regularly scheduled every other Tuesday at 1:00pm, 3:00pm, or 5:00pm. Any interested person having noted their formal objection on the record may file a written response to any request to clarify or reconsider within ten (10) working days of receipt of the request to clarify or reconsider. Such written responses must be filed with the Office of the Board at Board of Municipal & Zoning Appeals, 417 E. Fayette Street, Room 1432, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. 5.

Appeals. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Board may appeal the Board’s decision to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City pursuant to Title 7 of the Maryland Rules

Baltimore City Zoning Code Information

Page 103 Section 5 contains Variances; page 112 Section5-308

  • 5-308. Approval standards.

(a) Required finding of unnecessary hardship or practical difficulty.

In order to grant a variance, the Zoning Administrator, the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals, or the City Council, as the case may be, must find that, because of the particular physical surroundings, shape, or topographical conditions of the specific structure or land involved, an unnecessary hardship or practical difficulty, as distinguished from a mere inconvenience, would result if the strict letter of the applicable requirement were carried out.

(b) Other required findings.
The Zoning Administrator, the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals, or the City Council,

As the case may be, must also find that:

(1) the conditions on which the application is based are unique to the property for which the variance is sought and are not generally applicable to other property within the same zoning classification;

Baltimore Municipal Zoning and Appeals Board (BMZA)

Tuscany Canterbury Zoning Districts

R-1 – maximum 5.9 units per acre allowed.

R-5 also allows for single-family semi-detached (14.5 units per acre), single-family attached townhouses (17.4 per acre) and multi-family housing (17.4 per acre).

R-8 also allows for single-family semi-detached housing (21.7 units per acre), single family attached townhouses (58 units per acre) and multi-family housing (58 units per acre).

◆ R-9 also allows single-family semi-detached housing (21.7 units per acre), single-family attached town- houses (58 dwelling units per acre) and multi-family housing (79.2 units per acre).


◆ R-10 is the densest area. It also allows for single-family semi-detached housing (21.7 units per acre), single family attached townhouses (58 units per acre) and multi-family housing (217.8 units per acre).

Find the Zoning Code Here

Zoning Information

Full text of Baltimore City Zoning Code:

The relevant part can be found HERE



Baltimore City Zoning Board Information and Contacts

Baltimore Municipal Zoning and Appeals Board (BMZA)

417 E Fayette St #922
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 396-4301

Office of the Board.  417 E Fayette Street, Suite 1432. Baltimore, MD 21202

Email US by clicking here.

All applicants and individuals in support and opposition to any matter before the Board must appear in person or provide testimony in writing to at least 48 hours ahead of the scheduled hearing.

Position Member Name Term Started Term Expires Appointed By
Chair James Fields April 2, 2018 April 2, 2022 Mayor
Member Bill Cunningham July 16, 2018 July 16, 2022 Mayor
Member Otis Freeman Swear in Date Plus 4 years Mayor
Member Leland Shelton Swear in Date Plus 4 years Mayor
Member Sabrina Johnson Turner June 28, 2019 June 28, 2023 Mayor
Member, Alternate Frank Bonaventure February 13, 2019 February 13, 2023 Mayor
Member, Alternate Anissa Jai Bonner February 13, 2019 February 13, 2023 Mayor

Notice time period. For any matter requiring a public hearing, the applicant shall provide notice in accordance with the requirements imposed by the Baltimore City Zoning Code and these Rules and Regulations at least twenty-one (21) consecutive days prior to the day of the hearing. 

Owners of the Academy


GMH Communities (GMH Associates) Owns The Social

General Inquiries

Corporate Office. 610 355 8000.  10 Campus Boulevard
Newtown Square, PA 19073

CEO of GMH communities: Gary Holloway Jr.

Gary Holloway Jr. As Chief Executive Officer & President of GMH Communities, Gary Holloway Jr., draws on 20 years of acquisition, property management, asset management, and development experience to lead the second generation of the family business.

Headquartered in Newtown Square, PA, GMH Communities is a, privately-held real estate company specializing in the acquisition, development and management of exceptional living communities throughout the United States. Since 1985, GMH has participated in over 300 transactions representing more than $8 billion of gross asset value across all major property types. In 1985, Gary Holloway Sr. founded GMH Associates as a full-service real estate company In total, GMH has owned and operated over 75,000 units in its 36 year history.

GMH Capital Partners Rebrands To GMH Communities (June 6, 2021)

After 35+ years in the business, Newtown Square-based real estate firm changes its name and expands verticals, still offers exceptional housing and service to its residents and investors.

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GMH Capital Partners (“GMH”), the real estate investment subsidiary of GMH Associates, announced it is now GMH Communities. Residents and investors can still expect the same exceptional service GMH has delivered for the last three decades, just with a new name, look, feel, and expanded focus. Under the GMH Communities umbrella are three verticals representing each of the company’s focus areas: GMH Student Living, GMH Innovative Living (a new offering), and GMH Residential Living.

Other information about 3700 N Charles Street

  • GMH bought property on November 15, 2016 for $42,700,000,
  • Maryland State Tax Assessment (2022) is $25,879,30

The following information on zoning restrictions for signs is provided for reference

Sign table per zoning code Sheet1