County wants to purchase land in Perry Hall-White Marsh area Lawmaker to introduce bill to halt building on tract

October 01, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

In a continuing effort to acquire parkland for the Perry Hall-White Marsh area, Baltimore County officials are looking to purchase 25 acres slated for development near Seven Oaks Elementary School.

Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat, will introduce a bill Monday night that would halt development of the tract until the county decides whether to acquire it.

Developer Tom Sperl has submitted plans to build 51 houses on the tract off Seven Courts Drive, which is known as the Brewer property. A county hearing officer has reviewed the development plans for the property and is scheduled to rule on the request next week.

Sperl said yesterday that he was not concerned about the county's interest in his property. "We're selling it, and we don't care who buys it, as long as we get our money," he said.

Gardina said the county would have to compensate the owners for their expenses in creating and submitting their development plan, as well as for the value of the land. Appraisals are being made of the Brewer property, but the county has been offering property owners in the area between $15,000 and $30,000 an acre for parkland.

County law requires a network of parks to be in place before development is allowed throughout the 3,000-acre Honeygo area.

As a result, the county has been scouring Perry Hall and White Marsh for parkland -- a search complicated by the increasing price of land as the area develops.

The county would like to avoid a repeat of what happened in the Owings Mills area when the county spent $5.3 million to buy parkland after almost all the area had been developed.

But one effort to seize farmland from one of the area's old-line families backfired this year when public sentiment turned against the move and the county backed away from its plan to take the land.

The county considered buying the Brewer property about a year ago, but officials believed wetlands on the property would prevent the construction of ball fields the county wanted.

After the developer submitted his drawings, county environmental officials took another look at the tract and determined the wetlands probably would not prohibit the athletic fields.

The County Council is scheduled to vote on Gardina's bill Nov. 2. If it passes, the county would put a six-month reservation on the property until it determines whether to go forward with the purchase.

Gardina said that if the county buys the land, the wooded portion is likely to be used for trails and the cleared land for ball fields.

"The concern is the area has almost no open space," Gardina said.

The Brewer property's proximity to a school makes the land especially desirable, said Recreation and Parks Director John F. Weber III. Several possible park sites are being considered in the Honeygo area, Weber said.

Pub Date: 10/01/98

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