Farmland preservation issue dominates Balto. Co. hearing Opponents contend value of property would drop

September 05, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Opponents of a measure designed to preserve Baltimore County's dwindling farmland urged council members last night to reject tougher zoning for more than 11,000 acres in the rural north county, complaining that the change would erode the value of their land.

As the Baltimore County Council kicked off a series of hearings on hundreds of proposed zoning changes, the opponents of the proposal to rezone rural watershed land applauded loudly in support of property owners like Peggy Ardolino.

"Robbing owners of equity is an unconscionable move to meet the county's preservation goals without reasonable compensation to owners," said Ardolino, who with her husband owns 53 acres in Freeland.

At the same time, some in the audience cheered preservationists who called on council members to help stem urban sprawl and protect the region's drinking-water reservoirs.

"Going, going, going, gone -- that is what is happening to a lot of our rural state," said Sondra Levin, an Owings Mills resident and a member of the Sierra Club. "It's like a giant Pacman is eating up the trees."

Last night's hearing, which drew about 200 people to Franklin High School in Reisterstown, focused on zoning issues affecting the county's 3rd Councilmanic District. The district, which includes Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Cockeysville and the rolling farmland of the north county, is the county's largest.

Among the issues addressed was a proposal to put more restrictive zoning on virtually all of Glyndon. Lee Wroe, president of the Glyndon Community Association, was among the two dozen people who showed support for that proposal.

If changes aren't made, Wroe said "it is likely that historic Glyndon will, over time, lose its uniqueness and charm and see a decline in its property values."

However, no issue generated the debate that accompanied the farmland preservation proposal. So sweeping are the effects of the proposal that T. Bryan McIntire, the district councilman, wrote an open letter this summer seeking input on the matter.

Current watershed protection zones permit one house for every 5 acres.

The proposed agricultural zoning would allow one house per 50 acres. Phillip A. Worrall, chairman of the planning board, advocated the zoning change, and won the support of the planning board.

A hearing on issues in the 1st District in the southwestern county is scheduled for tonight at Lansdowne High School, 3800 Hollins Ferry Road. Another, on issues in the 2nd District, will be held FTC Tuesday at Pikesville High School, 7621 Labyrinth Road. The meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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