Razing OK'd for historic house on Ballman Ave.

March 11, 1997|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel Department of Planning and Code Enforcement has granted the owner of a 125-year-old historic Brooklyn Park house a demolition permit to raze the brick structure.

Work on demolition of the house at the 10-acre site in the 5600 block of Ballman Ave. is expected to begin in two to four weeks, after a contractor is selected, said Thomas A. Pavlinic, a lawyer for owner Georgia O. Clift.

The house has been vacant since 1985, has no running water, heat or electricity, and has extensive water damage from a leaky roof. Every window is broken. But county officials placed it on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Places in 1985 without Clift's knowledge or consent.

A building on the inventory may not be demolished unless it "threatens public health or safety or denies the owner every economically viable use of the property," Robert M. Pollock, the county's senior assistant lawyer, said yesterday.

Clift, a fourth-generation descendant of Henry Ballman, the original owner, has been trying to demolish the structure since July 1994, when she applied for a permit.

She plans to sell the land, Pavlinic said.

The issuing of the permit Thursday ended a dispute of nearly six years between Clift and the county over the property. In 1991, she sought unsuccessfully to rezone the site to build 94 homes. Neighbors objected, and in 1993 the Court of Special Appeals upheld Anne Arundel County's refusal to rezone. Pavlinic had planned to buy the land then.

Last year, the Court of Special Appeals ruled that Clift had to present her proposal to the county Board of Appeals a second time because the board considered the wrong ordinance when it approved demolition of the house on April 7, 1995.

The court said the board should not have considered a 1994 ordinance aimed at preventing the destruction of historic homes, because it was not enacted until two months after Clift had applied for her demolition permit.

"The county cost Mrs. Clift $10,000 and 2 1/2 years to get a permit that should have been granted in 15 minutes," Pavlinic said.

Pavlinic said he will request cancellation of an April 10 hearing before the Board of Appeals.

"I didn't see the necessity for us going back for the [second] hearing when the only issue was an issue of law," Pollock said. "It would have been an exercise in futility."

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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