Hayfields opponents appeal decision Land preservationists fight development in Court of Special Appeals

March 02, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

With time running out before the first golfers tee off at Hayfields Country Club, opponents of the project go to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals today to keep the beloved Hunt Valley farm from becoming a golf course and housing development.

A lawyer for the Valleys Planning Council, an influential land preservation group, will argue that Baltimore County erred in granting permission for the country club and adjacent housing development by failing to consider the harm the project would cause to the environment, agricultural resources and the county's history.

The Nicholas Mangione family, which is developing the country club off Shawan Road at Interstate 83, also is appealing, asking the court to grant two more building lots to the housing development.

Each side will be allowed 20 minutes to state its case, and a ruling is likely to take months, said George A. Nilson, lawyer for the Valleys Planning Council.

Even though the golf course is nearly complete and country club memberships are for sale, Nilson said the legal challenges are not moot.

"The irreversible impacts are when it opens its gates and people start coming in there every day," he said.

A loss for the opponents in the Court of Special Appeals would leave open the possibility of an appeal to the Court of Appeals.

Nilson will present three main arguments against the project: that county officials erred in ruling it would not be harmful to the environment; that the Board of Appeals should have taken into consideration the loss of valuable farmland; and that the board ,, failed to consider the damage the project would cause to a historic site.

The Hayfields farm is one of the oldest farms in the county and once was so productive that it was awarded a silver tankard by Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette. During the Civil War, it was used by Confederate and Union troops.

The lawyer for the Mangiones, meanwhile, will argue that county officials erred in calculating the number of houses that should be allowed in the golf course community and urge the court to grant permission for 39 homes instead of 37.

Although the legal issues probably will not be resolved for BTC months, work is proceeding at the 474-acre site. Grass on the course has been planted, most of the cart paths are complete and work has started on the cart storage shed, pro shop and maintenance facility, said project manager John Mangione.

The course is scheduled to open in July and the club house in December. The pool will be ready by next spring, Mangione said.

Originally, the Mangiones had planned to offer the golf course to public play, but are so confident in the course they have decided to restrict play to private members.

Mangione said that change, along with the effort that is being made to preserve the historic buildings on the farm, is helping dispel opposition to the project -- even though the court battle continues.

"I think we've turned the corner with the VPC [Valleys Planning Council] and they are getting to a level of acceptance," he said.

But Nilson said that while the project is better than originally proposed, "I can't say the Valleys Planning Council and my clients have achieved a full level of acceptance."

Pub Date: 3/02/98

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