Panel approves study of golf course expansion BALTIMORE CITY

January 28, 1993|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

Despite the protests of environmentalists, the Board of Estimates cleared the way yesterday for the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. to move ahead with a study to determine the environmental impact of expanding the Pine Ridge Golf Course.

The feasibility study, which also includes some design work for expanding the course, is expected to take six months to complete and cost the private golf corporation $200,000.

"What is not before us is a request to expand Pine Ridge," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. "The mayor and other members of this board have expressed our disinclination to allow a second course at Pine Ridge."

Mr. Schmoke said that the feasibility study would give the golf corporation an opportunity to convince opponents that they can build a second golf course at Pine Ridge without harming the Loch Raven Reservoir, which abuts the course.

"The burden of proof will clearly be on the golf corporation," Mr. Schmoke said.

The mayor also said the environmental study should be done in cooperation with the city's Department of Public Works and activists who for years have opposed expansion of the course, which is located in the city-owned Loch Raven watershed in Baltimore County.

Any expansion of the golf course would require approval by the city, compliance with state environmental regulations and zoning approval from Baltimore County.

The golf corporation, a private group which runs the five city-owned golf courses, has discussed expanding the Pine Ridge course for years.

When the issue was raised in 1987, neighbors of the course and environmentalists rose up in opposition and managed to scuttle the plan, which also received unfavorable environmental reviews.

Then, as now, opponents raised concerns about the loss of forested land in the Loch Raven watershed, harm to area wildlife and a decline in the quality of the drinking water that passes through the Loch Raven Reservoir. There also were concerns about erosion and contaminants from chemicals used to maintain the course's greens getting into the reservoir.

"The watershed already has one of the most intense recreational uses of any on the East Coast," said Sandy Sparks, chairwoman of the city's Forestry Board, who was among more than a dozen people who spoke yesterday against allowing the study.

Henry H. Miller, chairman of the Municipal Golf Corp., said the group's plans to add a second 18-hole course plus a three-hole course for the disabled at Pine Ridge could be fulfilled without damaging the environment.

Council President Mary Pat Clarke pointed out that intense development is taking place in many areas of Baltimore County, even though the county's population is growing very slowly.

She said many new developments in Baltimore County are attracting people from other parts of the county, allowing older neighborhoods to deteriorate.

"Why are we here about a golf course?" Ms. Clarke asked. "Why aren't we here about [widespread development]? The county has not been forced to face up to dealing with existing neighborhoods."

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