Crofton club wants civic group off its land WEST COUNTY -- Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills

December 08, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Children playing in a sandbox at Swann Park in Crofton may actually be trespassing on the local golf course. Those using the swings could also be encroaching. And maybe even the slide, right near the 12th tee at the Crofton Country Club.

Apparently, over a period of years, playground equipment somehow got onto country club property. And club owner Bill Berkshire, whose insurance company recently surveyed the land for some new fences, wants the equipment moved.

"This is not a complicated proposal or situation," Mr. Berkshire said. "The equipment and the improvements that the community has done -- they've done it on country club property."

Mr. Berkshire, who wants to fence in the club near the playground, said he is concerned for children's safety and any liability he might incur due to injuries. "It makes us sound like we're being picky," he said. "But it's clearly a case of liability."

The civic association board of directors, which discussed the problem last week, is waiting to see a survey map completed by a contractor hired by Mr. Berkshire.

But the dispute seems to have ended last week, when Ed Dosek, the president of the civic association, wrote to Mr. Berkshire and agreed to move the equipment.

"After a walk-through of the property and a study of the property line surveys you recently obtained, we will relocate any equipment which encroaches on your property," the Nov. 30 letter says.

Board members discussed several options at a meeting Dec. 1, including moving the offending equipment. But some representatives also broached the idea of "taking" the land, either by a quiet title or adverse possession.

In a brief discussion, some members said that because the playground has been used for 22 years, a case may be made that the club has forfeited its property rights.

But some of the playground equipment was added just two years ago, the club president said in an interview.

Mr. Berkshire, who has had several run-ins with the board since 1989 -- in disputes over open space near the club's entrance and chain link fences he wanted to erect earlier this year -- became angry when told about the short discussion.

"I find it disturbing that the civic association would even entertain the idea of usurping property or rights based on a technicality," he said.

While agreeing with some board members that the playground hTC issue is minor and can easily be solved, Mr. Berkshire said he cannot believe the subject of "taking" the land was even briefly mentioned.

"The idea that they would spend tax money to snake away land from the country club is incredible," he added. "We haven't hollered or screamed or made any threats. We just politely pointed it out and asked them to correct it."

Mr. Berkshire said he offered to lease the land in question to the civic association for $1 a year, "but like always, they said nothing."

Mr. Dosek said he was not aware of Mr. Berkshire's offer, but said it may be a good solution. He added that the short discussion about "taking" the land was not being given further consideration.

"I think what we will do is just move the equipment," he said. "It's not a big deal."

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