Bus loads of Brooklyn Park residents renewed their fight last week against an absentee landowner who wants to build town houses on one ofthe neighborhood's few remaining open lots.
Several hundred people trekked to the Arundel Center in Annapolis last Wednesday to protest a rezoning appeal by Georgia Clift, who owns 11.3 acres on Ballman Avenue. Clift hopes to upgrade the zoning to develop a large town-house community.
A fourth-generation descendant of Henry Ballman, who came to northern Anne Arundel County in 1851 and carved out an estate, Clift has been living in New Hampshire since 1983. She says the land's current zoning, which limits the number of units to five per acre, has scaredaway potential buyers.
Her lawyer, Thomas A. Pavlinic, wants to buy the land and build 94 homes, including 86 town houses. Residents of Ballman Avenue are fiercely opposed to the plan and claim Clift is selling out her heritage.
In September, crowds of her former neighbors protested rezoning the land for 10 units per acre. A week later,Zoning Officer Roger C. Wilcox denied the request to upgrade the zoning, saying he found no blatant mistake in the original designation.
"It may well be, as the applicants suggest, that it would be more logical to zone the property to a more intense residential use," he wrote in an opinion issued Sept. 27. "This, however, is not the test. The mere fact that hindsight might show that an other zoning line . .. would have been more desirable or even logical does not a zoning error make."
Pavlinic filed an appeal, claiming that the county erred when it zoned the site R-5. A planning board had recommended designating the site R-15 during the county's last comprehensive rezoning in 1989.
Neighbors who live in well-kept single houses on Ballman Avenue testified in December and again last week that they fear the development will burden the local elementary school, roads and drainage system.
Led by the Arundel Improvement Association and the Greater Brooklyn Park Council, an umbrella association representing 14 civic groups, several bus loads headed to Annapolis again on Wednesday. The civic groups have spent at least $1,000 transporting the crowds to protest.
A decision on the appeal is expected within the next 30to 60 days.
"We have made a supreme effort to convince the peopleshould we have 100 or more houses dumped next door, it would certainly affect the community," said Frances Jones, president of the Arundel Improvement Association.