Council Allows Mountain Road Farm To Be Developed

August 21, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

The County Council reluctantly allowed the Schramm turkey farm in Pasadena to withdraw from an agricultural preservation program, openingthe way for the farm to be subdivided for development.

"I bought fresh turkeys there for many, many years," said Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis. "I won't be able to buy my turkey there this year.It's sad. This is the end of an era in Anne Arundel County."

The Schramm family must sell off most of the 213-acre farm so three siblings and a cousin will be able to retire and pay inheritance taxes when the time comes, said Emma Schramm, 62.

"We cannot affordto die with the entire farm intact," Schramm said. "A farmer is poorall his life and dies rich in the eyes of the IRS. . . . This has not been an easy decision to make. We're not selling because we want to-- we're selling because we have to."

Schramm said the family will live on 37 acres of the farm. Members will grow vegetables on 12 acres and operate a roadside stand.

The council's vote abolishes theArmiger Agricultural Land Preservation District, formed in 1980 for the Schramms. The farm is the only property in the district.

The farm is the last one along the highly developed Mountain Road corridor. The Schramms are the first farmers to ask out of a preservation contract in the' county program's 14-year history.

Schramm said a state easement -- which would have paid the family the difference between the farm's developed value and its worth as farmland -- might have saved the farm from bulldozers, but the family could wait no longer. The easement program fell victim to state budget troubles earlier this year.

"If we had our lives to live over, we would still be farmers. It's the most honorable profession a man can do. But if we had tostart over today, I don't know. It's getting harder and harder everyday," Schramm said.

In other action Monday night, the County Council:

* Rejected County Executive Robert R. Neall's nominees to thecounty Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board by a 4-3 vote. The county must submit three names to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who picksthe board member.

Neall proposed the candidates to replace Chairman Tom Dixon of Harmans. Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum, opposed the three candidates because none was from North County, where Dixon lives. Bachman said he wanted Dixon reappointed or another North County resident nominated.

Neall spokeswoman Louise Hayman said the other members of the board are from North County. The administration will ask the council to reconsider its decision.

* Approved a bill allowing a fixed amount of development on 160 acres within 1,000 feet of the shoreline or tidal wetlands, known as critical areas.

The state critical-areas law requires the county to open up a certain amount of such land to more intensive development. The bill, proposedby the county administration, allows 58 acres to be developed at onehome per 4 acres and 102 acres to be developed for industrial, commercial and higher-density residential development.

Property owners may apply to the county Office of Planning and Zoning to develop their land more intensively.

* Discussed a bill that would allow tree-planting money to be used to buy woodlands and replant shoreline grass.

The money is collected from developers who build in critical areas. The county has about $800,000 in the 3-year-old fund but hasn't planted any trees because it hasn't found appropriate sites. However,the law has resulted in developers' having spent an additional $400,000 to replant trees in areas they've cleared.

At a meeting two weeks ago, Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, and council Chairwoman Virginia Clagett, D-West River, proposed amendments to the bill that would have used all the money to purchase easements on woodlands in agricultural preservation areas, improve parks and battle gypsy moths.

Both withdrew their amendments Monday night, saying they didn't know about the other's amendment before it was introduced.

A revised amendment submitted by Clagett was defeated.

The bill now before the council, proposed by Councilwomen Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, and Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, will be voted on Sept. 3. If passed, it must be reviewed by the state Critical Areas Commission, which may reject any part of the bill that doesn't meet state law.

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