Schmoke veto kills planned golf course

April 01, 1994|By Patrick Gilbert and Michael A. Fletcher | Patrick Gilbert and Michael A. Fletcher,Sun Staff Writers

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday he opposes construction of a golf course next to Pine Ridge Golf Course in the city-owned Loch Raven watershed.

Officials with the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp., the private, nonprofit group that manages the city's golf courses, said the mayor's action ends their plans for building a second course next to Pine Ridge in Baltimore County, about two miles northeast of Towson.

At a news media briefing, Mr. Schmoke said he decided to protect the region's water supply and because he had "concerns about establishing a precedent for development" in the watershed.

The decision was greeted with enthusiasm and relief by county officials and environmental groups who saw in it a message of strong commitment to protect the watershed.

"I feel very good about it," said County Executive Roger B. Hayden.

Mr. Hayden said the mayor told him of his decision Wednesday.

"Obviously, we would be disappointed that he would not support us," said Lynnie Cook, executive director of the golf corporation. "But we recognize the decision was going to be left up to the mayor and Board of Estimates."

An environmental study commissioned last year by the corporation showed that a new course could be run safely, "given proper mitigation and management," Mr. Cook said.

The golf corporation notified county officials in October of its intent to build 21 holes adjacent to Pine Ridge.

Corporation officers had said the $4 million project would be financed privately and would add about 200 acres to the 310 the course occupies. The city owns 8,117 acres in the Loch Raven Reservoir property.

J. James Dieter, director of the county Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, said the decision prevents the loss of valuable natural resources, such as trees and wildlife habitat.

"I'm relieved and cheered because this means not only added protection to the watershed and water quality, but also it means we are going to have proper watershed management," Mr. Dieter said.

Polly Walker Wirth, a board member of the Watershed Protection Coalition, said she was thrilled with the Schmoke decision.

However, Dr. Wirth said, "there are still other threats to the reservoir watershed that also need to be addressed," and the coalition will attend a City Council hearing Wednesday concerning the watershed.

Dru Schmidt-Perkins, Maryland director of Clear Water Action, said the mayor's decision "averts a dangerous precedent and sends a clear message that aggressive protection of the watershed is a priority."

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