Bill proposes fund to buy land for open space

April 10, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Open space is being eaten up by development at such a rapid pace in Baltimore County that one County Council member thinks people would be willing to donate money to save it.

Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, asked the council yesterday to consider a measure that would set up a county Open Space Revenue Account, to be financed by contributions from citizens.

The money would be used annually to buy land in the county that would remain open, she said.

"I think there's so much concern out there about development and the loss of parkland that there would be a lot of interest in this kind of thing," said Mrs. Manley. "It could really take off."

County taxpayers would get an insert explaining the fund's purpose in their annual tax bills, but she emphasized that there would be no obligation to make a donation.

Contributions would probably not be tax-deductible, said Thomas J. Peddicord Jr., the council's legislative counsel.

Once a year, the recreation and parks director would develop a list of proposed uses for the contributions and would submit the list to the council after consulting with the county executive or the county administrative officer, according to the bill.

Mrs. Manley said the fund would be similar to the state's Project Open Space, but that all of its funds would be contributed voluntarily.

Mrs. Manley said she was prompted to come up with the measure after researching the county's proposed acquisition of the Loveman Tract, a 13-acre parcel off Harlem Lane in Catonsville that is slated to be developed into 80 town houses.

The county's year-old master plan, which was approved by the council, lists the property along with 39 other tracts as a proposed site for a park.

But council members have said recently that because the site is zoned for town houses in a densely populated community, the cost of acquisition -- roughly $1.4 million -- makes it too expensive to purchase.

Mrs. Manley's measure is scheduled to be discussed in the weeks ahead, but is not on the agenda for the council's April 15 session.

Yesterday the council also:

*Discussed a measure sponsored by members Melvin Mintz, D-2nd, and William A. Howard IV, R-6th, setting guidelines that would encourage the county to purchase recycled paper and other supplies whenever possible. The measure is slated to be voted on April 15.

*Heard a recommendation from Richard Story, economic development director, to transfer $750,000 into the Baltimore County Revenue Authority's account so that the agency can begin negotiating to purchase the Pikes Theater for use as a cultural arts center. The request will be voted on April 15.

*Heard two hours of testimony on bills that would revamp the process now used to approve residential developments in the county. The process has come under fire in recent months by community groups.

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