Developer gets official's OK to expand Bonds School site

June 27, 1993|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

Baltimore County Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt granted on Friday a request from a county developer for an acreage transfer that would enlarge the site of the Bonds School to one acre.

But Mr. Schmidt prohibited the purchasers from razing, refurbishing or altering the exterior appearance of the one-room schoolhouse without approval from the county Office of Planning and Zoning.

E. James Frack Jr. asked for the change to resell the lot to a couple who want to live in the old school. He has a contract to buy 3.5 acres, including the Bonds School parcel, from Bertha Morris, the granddaughter of the man who built the school in 1872.

Mr. Frack said he intends to sell the other two lots, each slightly larger than an acre, and build houses on them for the buyers.

Community residents who protested Mr. Frack's request wanted assurances that the schoolhouse would not be torn down and seek a limit on the number of houses built on the property he's buying.

The schoolhouse is on the Baltimore County Landmarks Commission inventory list, which now numbers about 2,500 sites, according to Ruth Mascari, commission chair.

Some local residents and former students would like to see the schoolhouse on the commission's official landmarks list, which would protect it from being demolished or overshadowed by surrounding buildings.

"Bonds School is certainly worth considering for the landmarks list," Mrs. Mascari said. "It's an extremely interesting example of the old one-room schools and it is virtually unaltered."

John W. McGrain, county historian, said the school was one of dozens built from an architectural design developed in the 1860s by Dixon & Dixon, the same architects who designed the old county courthouse. As late as 1920, there were still about 40 of the one-room schoolhouses being used in the rural areas of the county.

Mrs. Mascari said no citizen has yet to ask the commission for a public hearing to determine if the Bonds School should be on the landmarks list, a process that could take as long as 60 days once it is initiated.

Mr. McGrain, a commission member, said the commission is trying to solicit a letter of intent from Mr. Frack and the prospective buyers of the school to preserve the building.

"We have told the residents all along that we have absolutely no intentions to tear down the schoolhouse," Mr. Frack said.

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