Hayfields plan passes major hurdle Zoning commissioner substantially approves 475-acre development

Work could begin this year

Opponents say fight over Balto. Co. farm likely will continue

June 13, 1996|By A SUN STAFF WRITER

The controversial Hayfields golf course community in northern Baltimore County won a key approval yesterday -- a decision that could lead to the start of construction this year.

Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt substantially approved the development plan for the 475-acre farm, although he acknowledged the decision was difficult because of the threat posed to the county's rural valleys. In the end, he said, he had little choice but to approve the proposed country club and its 39 houses.

Lawyer G. Scott Barhight, who represents the Nicholas Mangione family that wants to develop the historic farm, said the Mangiones want to proceed with construction as soon as possible. "There is no question we're pleased," Barhight said.

But opponents promised to continue fighting the project, which they say will destroy one of the most important farms in the county.

Schmidt ruled in favor of the developer in nearly every issue raised during four days of hearings last month.

Yesterday, he wrote that the scope of his review was limited by law. "It is ultimately the executive and legislative branches of government which . . . formulate the zoning and development laws. I am required to follow the mandate of the laws and the regulations in effect."

But he did deny the developer's request to locate remote septic systems on six of the housing lots.

The developer sought the unusual configuration to increase the density of housing on a northeast portion of the site. Schmidt said remote septic systems and their long connecting lines presented an environmental threat.

He ordered the developer to amend the plan, placing the septic systems in a more conventional manner, even if it means the loss of some building lots.

Barhight said it was too early to tell how Schmidt's ruling on that issue would affect the project.

Schmidt ordered the developer to submit an amended plan within 30 days. Once approved, the Mangiones can apply for construction permits.

Although construction could begin this year, the fight over the project won't be over.

John Bernstein, executive director of the Valleys Planning Council, said the land preservation group may appeal the hearing officer's decision to the county Board of Appeals. He said the group also is likely to appeal in Circuit Court a decision by the Board of Appeals to allow the golf course.

Pub Date: 6/13/96

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