After two years of negotiation, a developer has agreed to build Howard County's first county-owned golf course for $6 million.
Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker said yesterday that the county had agreed orally to buy the 18-hole course from Brantly Development Corp. The developer will build the course as part of Centre 9500, a 352-acre residential, commercial and golfing community northwest of the Interstate 95-Route 100 interchange in Elkridge.
"This calls for a real celebration. The ice is breaking, the spring thaw is coming and we're looking forward to the summer of enjoyment," said Donald J. Dunn, president of the Howard County Golfers' Association.
Howard golfers have fought for more than 15 years for the creation of a publicly owned golf course, he said. Although happy about the agreement, Mr. Dunn said he hoped this milestone would be followed by agreements to build other public courses in Howard.
Only one course in the county, the private Willow Springs in West Friendship, is open to pay-per-day play by non-members. The privately owned Columbia Association's Hobbit's Glen course is severely crowded, and Columbia Council members are split over whether to build a second course in Dorsey's Search village.
Two other county-owned courses are being contemplated. One, in the controversial Waverly Woods II development straddling Marriottsville and Woodstock, is tied up in a protracted zoning battle. Negotiations have not begun for a third, planned in the West Friendship Estates subdivision on Route 32.
Agreeing on the price of the Elkridge golf course was a major obstacle to getting county approval of Centre 9500 development plans, said Brantly President John Liparini. The project's "site-plan zoning," approved by County Council members in May 1990, mandates a public golf course.
Mr. Ecker said the county had reached the agreement shortly after the developer submitted its most recent proposal Nov. 18.
Although the price and the concept have been agreed upon, Mr. Ecker said, some contract language must be changed.
A main point of contention, he said, was working out a contract that would not cost county taxpayers anything. "Revenues of the course will pay for the operation and debt service of the course," he said. "I do not think that general taxpayers' money should subsidize the course."
Mr. Liparini said negotiations took two years because the county lost state money it had hoped to use to buy the land and build the course. Brantly executives had expected to sell the land for about $4.5 million. Instead, they will settle for about $500,000 potential profit from building and selling the golf course.
"In order to make this deal work, we've basically agreed to give the county the land," Mr. Liparini said.
The $6 million will pay for the 18-hole, par-71, 6,600-yard golf course, along with a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse, pathways and driving range. If plans and permits are approved on schedule, ground will be broken for the course sometime between next spring and winter, and the course would open by the summer of 1994, Mr. Liparini said.
The commercial portion of the project, which Mr. Liparini described as a Columbia-style village center, will be built in 1994 or 1995. The 165 acres of planned employment center zoning will developed much later, perhaps in the late 1990s, to coincide with the opening of Route 100. A continued poor commercial real estate market may keep the center from being developed
completely until after 2000, Mr. Liparini said.