Lawmakers to seek $4 million from state to buy Smith farm zTC If money is not budgeted, legislative action to follow

December 03, 1997|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Howard County's legislative delegation voted last night to request $4 million in state money to buy the Smith farm in east Columbia, likely for eventual development into a park.

State and county officials hope that by combining forces they can muster the money to make a serious bid for the 300-acre farm owned by Elizabeth C. "Nancy" Smith, who died in February -- unmarried and without children or a will.

The farm is now controlled by two cousins -- one in Baltimore, one in California -- but land preservation groups, area residents and local politicians hope to affect the fate of the property, the last big undeveloped parcel in east Columbia.

Last night, state Del. Elizabeth Bobo, a west Columbia Democrat, called the effort to preserve the farm "a chance of a lifetime."

Howard's delegation to the State House has already written a letter asking Gov. Parris N. Glendening to allocate $4 million in his budget for purchase of the property.

Last night's action was a backup plan.

If Glendening doesn't include the money in his budget proposal, Howard's delegates and senators plan to seek the money through legislative action.

Del. Frank Turner, an east Columbia Democrat, said Glendening has signaled interest in the Smith farm.

"I talked with him today," Turner said at last night's meeting. "It's at the top of his agenda."

Del. Donald E. Murphy, a Republican representing Elkridge and parts of Baltimore County, was the lone opponent to the $4 million budget request.

He said efforts to preserve Smith farm conflict with Glendening's "Smart Growth" initiative, which attempts to focus new construction in neighborhoods that are already developed.

Also last night, the delegation overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by Bobo to divert county money earmarked for road construction into school construction.

Since 1992, Howard has taxed new development and set aside the money for road construction. That pot of money now has $22 million and is growing by $7 million a year.

Last night, Bobo was the only supporter of the plan. Six delegates and all three state senators voted against it.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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