Owner continues fight to raze historic building

January 31, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

The owner of a century-old Brooklyn Park house is challenging Anne Arundel County's refusal to allow the razing of the brick structure because it is considered historic.

The Ballman-Gischel House, on 10 acres between Ballman Avenue and Patrick Henry Drive, has been on the Maryland list of historic places since 1985 and has been a source of contention ever since.

Owner Georgia O. Clift of Connecticut says the house, with a collapsing roof, is a safety hazard and should be demolished because she cannot afford repairs.

"It's a liability," said her lawyer, Thomas A. Pavlinic, who once planned to buy the property and put 94 homes on it but could not obtain the necessary zoning.

Last summer, Mrs. Clift sought a permit to raze the house and outbuildings, but the county turned her down, holding that the building was significant. Later, the County Council approved a measure that forbids razing buildings on the state historic list unless they are about to fall down.

That is an unfair use of the historic designation because it takes away property rights without consulting the owner, Mr. Pavlinic said.

"Anne Arundel County, are you going to pay the insurance? Patch holes in the roof?" he asked.

The county maintains that it can incorporate various state standards, from historic designations to wetlands delineations, into its laws. And it need not inform individual property owners, said Robert M. Pollock, senior assistant county attorney. Moreover, the Ballman house is not about to collapse, he said.

Mrs. Clift is a fourth-generation descendant of Henry Ballman, who came to Anne Arundel County in 1851 and amassed a 50-acre estate at what was then the southern tip of Brooklyn Park.

The house, two stories with a rear wing, was built about 1870 in a style known as Victorian Vernacular.

An addition thought to have been built in the 1930s or 1940s is in the Colonial Revival style.

One of Mr. Ballman's daughters married William Gischel, whose family was known for building fine brick homes, and inherited the house.

Historians think the Gischel family may have built the Ballman-Gischel House.

The Board of Appeals will hear the arguments at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Council Room of the Arundel Center.

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