County and state agree to buy Swan Harbor Farm

October 02, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

Harford County and Maryland have agreed to purchase Swan Harbor Farm near Havre de Grace from the Johns Hopkins University as part of an open-space program to protect bay shore property.

The 470-acre farm just south of the city is one of the last remaining undeveloped properties along the county's Chesapeake Bay shoreline.

Funds for the $2.5 million purchase include $2 million from the state's Program Open Space Advance Option and Purchase Fund. The remaining $500,000 will come from state open-space funds allotted to Harford County.

Harford County will hold title to the land and will be responsible for maintenance and oversight.

"At this point, we don't have specific plans for it, other than to keep it as undeveloped open space," said county spokesman George Harrison.

The farm had been the subject of controversy five years ago when Hopkins proposed developing it into a residential community of at least 600 homes. County officials rejected the rezoning request, citing potentially serious consequences to the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The farm is the major portion of a 522-acre tract donated to Hopkins in 1986 by W. John Kenney, a Washington lawyer who intended it to be sold "for maximum value" to benefit the university, said Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea.

The late Mr. Kenney had designated the proceeds to go to the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Mr. Kenney owned the farm for more than 30 years and had used it as a summer home for his family, Mr. O'Shea said.

The purchase agreement, which was reached in conjunction with the state Departments of Natural Resources and General Services, is subject to formal approval by the County Council. It is to be introduced as legislation at Tuesday's meeting.

Mr. Harrison said the state Board of Public Works is expected to vote on approval of the purchase Oct. 19.

The farm, with more than a half-mile of bay frontage, is bordered on the west by Gashey's Creek. The remaining 52 acres of the Hopkins tract, zoned for industrial development, eventually will be sold by the university as well, Mr. O'Shea said.

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