City fights golf plan Peril to water seen from project near Loch Raven Reservoir

Hearing next week

Residents have opposed proposal for months, fearing pollution, traffic

October 03, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

A proposed nine-hole golf course and golfing academy next to Loch Raven Reservoir would threaten the area's drinking water supply, say Baltimore officials who have joined neighborhood residents in opposing the $5 million project.

The city has not introduced evidence to support that fear, but Assistant City Solicitor Sandra Gutman said the city will oppose the Loch Raven Golf Club and Maryland Golf Academy at a hearing Wednesday before the Baltimore County Board of Appeals.

For months, residents have been fighting the golf project, proposed for Dulaney Valley Road between the reservoir and the Towson Golf and Country Club, saying it would contribute to congested roads and water pollution.

The Baltimore County Council chairman also is weighing in against the project, in part because it would preclude the Dulaney Valley Road improvement he thinks the county needs.

Robert J. Barrett, special assistant to County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, has been dispatched to mediate the dispute between opponents and the project's developer, Clark F. MacKenzie, but with the hearing days away, time is running out for a compromise.

"You always hope you can get everyone to work together," said (( Barett, who has been meeting with both sides for several months. The administration has taken no position on whether the project should be built.

Sibby Gibbs, manager of the project, said MacKenzie has offered to reduce the number of practice tees at the 86-acre site and to make other changes to appease the community and avoid the hearing.

"We're waiting to hear from the residents," she said.

Royal Johnson, a Windemere resident who opposes the project, said the changes offered by the developer don't go far enough and that only abandoning the project or drastically reducing its size would satisfy opponents.

"I doubt there is much he could do," Johnson said.

In May, a county hearing officer found little evidence to support the concerns about traffic and pollution, and approved the nine-hole golf course and related buildings. He denied the developer's request to install lights at the tee boxes.

The developer is appealing that restriction, while the communities of Windemere and Ravenhurst, along with several individuals, are appealing the decision to allow the golf course.

"It's going to be a lot more traffic," said County Council Chairman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Democrat who represents the area.

His opposition stems in part from a decision by county officials to scrap plans for a realigned road that would have run through the golf course site.

Bartenfelder said Dulaney Valley Road needs to be reconfigured to avoid a sharp turn at the intersection with Loch Raven Drive. A plan to straighten the road at that point has been on county engineering maps for years.

Initially, county officials told MacKenzie he would have to deed an easement for the future road realignment, but when the developer balked, the director of the Department of Public Works overrode the engineers and removed the realignment from county plans.

"I don't agree that you need to relocate Dulaney Valley Road," said Public Works Director Charles R. Olsen. "Realigning a road is expensive, and it just didn't make sense."

Arnold F. "Pat" Keller, the county planning director, also opposed the road realignment. "We're trying to maintain a rural character. didn't think this [the realigned road] was appropriate," he said.

County officials are talking instead about putting a roundabout at the intersection of Dulaney Valley Road and Loch Raven Drive.

MacKenzie, chairman of MacKenzie/O'Conor, Piper & Flynn Commercial Real Estate Services, has been working on the Golf Academy project for about three years.

In an advertisement in community newspapers, he says he is a "responsible developer" who wants to "provide a learning center for everyone wishing to enjoy the time-honored tradition of golf."

MacKenzie is a grandson of a founder of the Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh and a son of Roland Redus MacKenzie, who was on U.S. Walker Cup teams in the 1920s. His resume says he has played golf since he was 10.

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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