County delays $200,000 grant to Towson U.

Deal would help buy land for business area gateway

February 02, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Plans for a gateway to the Towson business district will have to wait.

Baltimore County officials postponed plans yesterday to award Towson University a $200,000 grant to help the school purchase the site of a former Crown service station at York Road and Burke Avenue, near the campus entrance.

Robert L. Hannon, executive director of the county's economic development department, said he asked County Council Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz to take the grant request off last night's council agenda because he realized the proposal lacked support from four members of the seven-member council, which would be necessary to pass it.

"We just didn't have enough support," Hannon said.

Hannon told council members last week that administration officials wanted the university to purchase the tract because it is a gateway to the Towson business district and its purchase would allow installation of an attractive sign and landscaping.

But several council members expressed concern about the parcel's $783,000 selling price -- almost double the appraised value of the half-acre tract -- when Hannon briefed them at a council work session.

Hannon said the price was non-negotiable because it is included in the terms of a lease negotiated years ago by the property owner, a New York investor, and Crown Central Petroleum, which has an option to buy the tract.

He said the grant was a county proposal and that it did not come from the university. "We went to them with the idea. They didn't come to us," he said.

Hannon said that he hopes the proposal will be reconsidered, but that he has no specific date in mind.

"I would hope that the issue isn't completely dead," he said. "We still think it's an important project for Towson."

But several council members said that the price is too high and that the state should fund state land purchases.

"There were just too many questions for it to go through," said Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a north county Democrat.

The council passed a measure last night to protect structures from demolition while the buildings are being considered for the county's historic register.

Pub Date: 2/02/99

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