'Small' shift in Hayfields plan sought Planning chairman wants golf holes, houses moved

Developer surprised

Historic farm in Baltimore Co. 'assaulted enough'

April 19, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The controversy over the development of historic Hayfields farm off Shawan Road grew even more confusing last night when the chairman of the Baltimore County Planning Board proposed moving four houses, several golf holes and the banquet facilities planned for a country club community there.

"This historic property is already being assaulted enough," Chairman Phillip W. Worrall said as he presented his surprise motion to change the development plan.

The board delayed action on Mr. Worrall's proposal until it meets May 2, giving the planning staff and the county Landmarks Preservation Commission time to comment on the suggested changes.

In another decision regarding a historical property, the board voted 9-4, with an abstention, to send to the zoning commissioner a plan to build 10 houses and a nursing home on the Balmuckety mansion site in Owings Mills.

But the board decided not to take a position on whether the commissioner should allow construction of a 150-bed nursing home on the site.

Mr. Worrall said the 10-acre Balmuckety site, which includes the remains of gardens designed by one of the first land-scape architects in the country, gave the Planning Board little flexibility in determining how that development should be built.

The size and scope of the Hayfields project gave the board more flexibility, he said.

Mr. Worrall characterized the changes he proposed as "relatively small," adding, "We're just talking about lines on paper, not the desecration of one Maryland's finest historic landmarks."

He proposes moving four houses off a ridge to avoid blocking the view of historic structures; putting the banquet facilities on the foundation of an old barn instead of next to a historic house; and moving the golf holes to permit a 300-foot buffer between the holes and Shawan Road.

The proposed changes caught developer John Mangione and his lawyer, G. Scott Barhight, off guard.

"Surprise, surprise, surprise," Mr. Barhight said. "We hadn't heard of this before."

Mr. Barhight argued that the Planning Board lacks the authority to make such significant changes in the development plan. Mr. Mangione said Mr. Worrall's suggestions "fly in the face of common sense to come this late in the game."

Mr. Barhight said months ago that his client hoped to break ground for the development this year, but preservationists and area residents have raised more than $100,000 to wage a multipronged assault on the development, which they fear would lead to the demise of Baltimore County's rural valleys.

The 474-acre farm, at Shawan Road and Interstate 83, dates to the mid-18th century, when it was owned by the Merryman family. In 1824, Hayfields' owner was awarded a silver tankard by the Marquis de Lafayette for having the best-managed farm in the state.

Seven historic structures, including the 186-year-old farmhouse, are on the site.

Various plans for development of the farmland have been the subject of contention since the 1970s. The Mangione family bought Hayfields in 1986 and has worked for more than a year on plans to build a golf course community.

In addition to the Planning Board, other county agencies and the Baltimore County Circuit Court must rule on the plan.

The Board of Appeals is conducting hearings on whether the zoning commissioner erred in his decision to permit a golf course the farm. The commissioner will conduct hearings next month on the specific development plan.

The County Council will rule on a request by the Mangiones to rezone part of the property to allow 10 more houses than the 40 permitted by the existing zoning.

The Circuit Court will determine whether the Board of Appeals acted correctly in an earlier decision turning down the developer's request for rezoning to allow the houses.

Pub Date: 4/19/96

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