Columbia gets OK for 2nd golf course State grants needed permits

October 01, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

State environmental officials issued permits yesterday that will let the Columbia Association build a second golf course, the last major hurdle for a controversial project that has pitted golfers against some of the course's future neighbors.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources granted permits for construction work that would affect wetlands, buffer areas and the flood plain of the Little Patuxent River and its tributaries.

The state said the association met all of the requirements to avoid or minimize the effect of the project on wetlands, to demonstrate the need for the project and to evaluate alternative sites.

The permits clear the way for construction to begin within three months on the $5.2 million, 204-acre, 18-hole course, which would meander through three Columbia villages.

"I'm not at all surprised they came through," said Padraic Kennedy, president of the association, a private, nonprofit corporation that runs Columbia's recreational facilities. "We tried to be responsive to all guidelines we possibly could, and we worked with the state and the community."

Opponents of the project said yesterday that they were disappointed and warned that the course would cost too much, hurt the river and its watershed, and disrupt the adjoining neighborhoods.

"I think it's a ludicrous place to put a golf course," said Vivian Newman, a Marriottsville resident and chairman of the Maryland Wetlands Committee, a state advisory group. "We have enough problems with our waterways."

The state's environmental review, which included site inspections and several modifications to the golf course plan, took more than 16 months.

The association had applied for and been granted similar environmental permits in the mid-1980s, but the Columbia Council, its policy-making body, later decided against building the course, citing financial reasons.

Mr. Kennedy said the association still must acquire a county grading permit and expects to begin construction this year.

Yesterday, opponents were still weighing whether to challenge the permits.

"I don't think the problems we raised are going to go away," said Richard West, a Wilde Lake village resident who expressed concern about a golf course's impact on nearby residences.

But Doug Wilson, chairman of a golf advisory committee to the association and council, said the permits demonstrate that the association has satisfied its environmental, economic and social obligations.

In March, the council allocated $5.2 million for construction of the course, which would wind through the villages of Town Center, Dorsey's Search and Wilde Lake, and would be bisected by the river.

The course would be built on the southwest side of Route 108 and Columbia Road, just west of Route 29 and on the site of the former Allview Golf Course.

Debate over the course has raged for 10 years, ever since the Rouse Co. closed Allview and built housing on parts of the land. Rouse had agreed to provide land for a replacement course later.

Proponents say a second course is needed to relieve overcrowding at the Hobbit's Glen Golf Course and would be a good investment for Columbia.

The permits issued yesterday allow the Columbia Association to withdraw water from the river to irrigate the course and to do the following work in sensitive areas:

* Permanently eliminate 350 square feet of "scrub-shrub wetland," or wetland with low vegetation.

* Clear trees on 1.57 acres of forested wetland, converting it to scrub-shrub wetland.

* Grade two-thirds of an acre within a 25-foot wetland buffer and remove 1.2 acres of trees within the buffer.

* Cut trees and fill within certain limits in the flood plain.

* Build boardwalk cart crossings over the river.

The association also plans to plant more than 1,000 new trees and shrubs around the course, the state's report says.

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