Appeals board urged to sink golf project County panel to rule on proposed academy

October 09, 1997|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Lawyers for several Baltimore County communities and the city yesterday urged an appeals board to reject plans for a golf academy near Loch Raven Reservoir, saying the project could contaminate drinking water and create a traffic hazard.

More than 50 residents from Ravenhurst, Windemere, Long Green Valley and other nearby neighborhoods crowded into the Board of Appeals hearing room as lawyers outlined their case against the proposed Loch Raven Golf Club and Maryland Golf Academy.

Macy Nelson, a lawyer for the residents, told the board that the facility Clark F. MacKenzie wants to build on Dulaney Valley Road is neither a country club nor a golf course -- uses permitted in the county's agricultural zone.

"This is a public driving range," he said. "And driving ranges are not permitted ."

Nelson also promised to show that the $5 million project would create a traffic hazard because sight distances are not adequate at the golf course entrance.

MacKenzie, chairman of MacKenzie/O'Conor, Piper & Flynn Commercial Real Estate Services, wants to build a nine-hole golf course, instructional academy, museum and 140-tee driving range on 145 acres off Dulaney Valley Road near the Loch Raven Drive intersection. The project also includes seven houses and a nature conservancy.

A hearing officer approved the project -- with restrictions -- in May, but both sides appealed. While the developer is asking the board to lift a prohibition against lights at the facility, residents want the entire project scrapped.

The residents have been joined by Baltimore, which owns the reservoir. City officials contend the project threatens the watershed and local drinking water.

Baltimore County People's Counsel Peter Max Zimmerman told the board that the project is incompatible with the county's master plan for development. "As far as this discussion goes, the county might as well not have a master plan," Zimmerman said.

But G. Scott Barhight, the lawyer representing MacKenzie, pointed out that all of the county agencies that reviewed the golf academy approved the project, including the planning director who found the development to be compatible with the master plan.

Barhight also told the board that the hearing officer who approved the plan had little choice because opponents provided almost no evidence to support their claims of pollution and traffic congestion.

The Board of Appeals, which has set aside eight days this month and next to hear the case, has two issues to resolve.

As an appeals panel, it must decide whether the hearing officer had adequate reason to approve the project's development plan, which includes the houses as well as the golf course. On that issue, it can consider only the review evidence presented to the hearing officer.

The board also must decide whether MacKenzie's project should be permitted in a rural area. On that matter, the board can accept new evidence concerning the project's impact on the community.

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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