Severna Park woodland eyed for preservation CENTRAL COUNTY--Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

December 17, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County Council is pondering whether to buy a 19-acre tract of woodland in Severna Park for preservation as a park area.

The property is part of 30 acres of pristine woodland that extends from the Baltimore-Annapolis hiking trail east to Ritchie Highway. The Greater Severna Park Council for several years has urged the county to buy the land and preserve it.

But after a Dec. 7 hearing, the County Council delayed its vote on the project, dubbed the "Cattail Creek Recreation Area," until Dec. 21.

Council Chairman David G. Boschert said new critical area legislation coming before the General Assembly in 1993 may tighten land usage and prevent the property from being developed anyway.

"With the current fiscal situation, I'm very cautious when I purchase land," he said. "If it's usable land that we can protect from development, let's go forward. If it's just a wetlands area that no one can use, why would I want to buy it?"

But Jack Keen, chief of planning and construction for the county's Recreation and Parks Department, said large sections on the north and south sides of the property could be developed, which would have a serious impact on water quality and other environmental conditions.

"If the county waits too long, there is always the danger the property could be developed," Mr. Keen said. "Certainly it is a prime developable property on Ritchie Highway."

Mr. Keen said the area should be preserved to protect the forest as well as the headwaters of Cattail Creek. The center of the property, a pond surrounded by steep slopes, is zoned open space and cannot be developed.

The Baltimore-Annapolis Railroad Co., which owns the land, is asking $1,045,000 for it.

Mr. Boschert said he knows the community supports the project.

"I feel it is justified up to a point," he said. "But I want to make sure I'm not spending taxpayers' money on real estate that would never be used."

He said he also wants to verify the appraisal of the land's value.

The Greater Severna Park Council has supported the area's preservation as a recreation area for several years, and voted for it last spring, said Ted Cheffy, council recreation committee chairman.

Said GSPC president Pat Troy: "This would not be a park with ball fields. Maybe some walking paths, but the important thing is to keep it as a natural area."

The property provides a scenic backdrop for the B&A trail heading north from Robinson Road, where the elevated roadbed looks out over the hardwood forest with the creek and pond. Open space behind a subdivision backs up to the trail on the west.

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