Vote to preserve gardens falls short Balmuckety mansion plot dropped by county panel

April 12, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

In an article appearing in some editions yesterday, the name of the company wanting to build a nursing home and housing development on the grounds of Balmuckety mansion off Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills was incorrectly reported. The name of the firm is Rynd Associates Inc.

The Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission failed last night to muster enough votes to place the Balmuckety mansion gardens on its preliminary list of protected places.

The commission voted 5-3, with one abstention, to list the property; supporters would have needed seven of 15 votes to succeed.


Neighbors and preservationists, who were joined by the grandson of the original owner of the mansion, argued in the packed hearing room that the remains of the gardens, designed by Thomas Warren Sears, one of the first landscape architects in the country, should be saved and restored to their original splendor.

Lawyers and experts who testified for Ryan and Associates, which wants to build a 150-bed nursing home on the site off Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills, said the gardens were too far gone and would be too expensive to restore.

"The bottom line is cost. This is a tough site to sustain," said Fredrick P. Behlen, a Towson landscape architect. "A lot of what is here is in irrevocable decline."

Homeowners in the Pikesville Farms and Cobblestone communities, which are adjacent to the gardens, say they plan to take the matter to the county's Board of Appeals.

The mansion, built early this century, already was on the commission's preliminary list of protected places.

The Planning Board is to decide next week whether the development would have an adverse impact on the mansion.

Former state Del. Richard Rynd, who heads Ryan and Associates and wants to build the nursing home and 11 houses on the grounds of the neo-Colonial Balmuckety mansion, plans to preserve the house and incorporate it into the nursing home operation. He is offering to move the gardens from the side of the property to the rear, next to a site proposed for a county school.

Opponents have argued that the development would ruin the gardens and detract from the mansion. They also oppose re-creating a garden behind the house. The county Planning Board will review those arguments at its meeting next week.

Even if the commission had voted to put the gardens on the preservation list, it would be possible for other county entities to overrule it.

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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