Schaefer to get a tour of Satyr Hill to see if he'll change his vote Public-acquisition proponents hopeful

January 22, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer will tour Satyr Hill Farm, the 216-acre centerpiece of Cromwell Valley, Monday at the invitation of Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden and others who hope he will approve public acquisition of the property next month.

The three-member state Board of Public Works is to vote Feb. 3 on the use of $3.7 million in Project Open Space funds for the property.

The site would be developed by the county as a recreational area and model farm. A spokesman for the governor said yesterday that no commitments have been made, but proponents consider his visit a good sign.

"We hope the vote Feb. 3 will just be a formality," said Debi Osborne, director of the Chesapeake Land Project for the Trust for Private Land, a nonprofit conservation group. The trust has paid about $10,000 for several options on the property to keep it available until the county and state can act.

Mr. Schaefer and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, two of the three members of the Board of Public Works, opposed a bond issue for the property in October.

At the time, the governor scolded Baltimore County legislators for voting against his budget and tax package and for opposing similar projects in other counties -- which are normally approved as matters of legislative courtesy. Mr. Goldstein has routinely opposed borrowing money for parkland. Without the governor's vote, the purchase can't go through.

Wayne Harman, the county's recreation and parks director, said the county's plans for the property may make a difference this time.

"I think the governor might be swayed by the farm's proposed use as a model farm, because we're going to emphasize farming techniques that will not pollute the Chesapeake Bay," Mr. Harman said.

The property also would be open to bird-watching, hiking, horseback riding and other forms of so-called "passive" recreation, Mr. Harman said.

Project Open Space has been financed by a 0.5 percent tax on property-title transfers, but the fund has been used for other purposes during the state's financial crisis.

To keep some projects going, the Schaefer administration has turned to borrowing through general obligation bonds.

Cromwell Valley, about three miles north and east of Towson, consists mainly of three adjacent farms. Satyr Hill is the easternmost parcel and includes a manor house, three caretaker's houses and some outbuildings. In the middle is the ++ 102-acre Sherwood Farm, now owned by the Maryland Environmental Trust and the only one protected by law from development.

The westernmost parcel, owned by C. Frederick Eck Jr. and known as Good Fellowship Farm, has been partially developed.

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