Carroll OKs 9 farms for preservation program

One is owned by son of Whittaker Chambers

May 27, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The historic Carroll County farm whose pumpkin patch was at the heart of one of the McCarthy era's most famous spy cases is among nine farms the county will submit to the state as agricultural preservation districts.

After a public hearing yesterday, the county commissioners voted to recommend that the state designate the farms, totaling more than 1,000 acres, as preservation districts.

This step requires the owners to commit to no development of the land for a minimum of five years.

It makes them eligible to sell development rights to the state through an easement, but does not require them to sell the easement.

One of the farms is owned by John Chambers, son of Whittaker Chambers, the former communist who accused former State Department official Alger Hiss of being a spy.

The farm drew national attention in 1948, when Chambers dramatically produced microfilm from a hollowed-out pumpkin. The microfilm tied Hiss to Soviet agents, and led to his conviction for perjury.

The 40-acre portion of the farm where the pumpkin grew is no longer owned by Chambers. It has been designated a preservation district, but the owner, state Sen. George W. Della Jr. of Baltimore, has not sold development rights to the state.

The nine farms and four approved earlier by the commissioners as preservation districts total 1,910 acres. That is the most acreage the county has preserved in a year since 1990.

Carroll is a national leader in among counties preserving farmland, with 28,063 acres of farmland in which development rights have been sold to the state through easements.

The farms recommended for approval yesterday had been recommended by the Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board and the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission.

They are:

79.24 acres owned by Geary E. Meyers at 3449 Old Taneytown Road, Taneytown.

202.31 acres owned by John Chambers at 446 E. Sawmill Road, Westminster.

172 acres owned by Michael P. Walsh at 828 Wesley Road, Finksburg.

43.31 acres owned by William O. Fritz at 315 N. Springdale Road, Westminster.

140.36 acres owned by Deborah F. Gwynne at 4041 N. Stone Road and another 148.02 acres owned by Gwynne south of North Stone Road in Taneytown.

103.66 acres owned by Wilma E. Harman at 3201 Black Rock Road, Manchester.

81.5 acres owned by Carolyn L. Leister at 2020 Hampstead-Mexico Road, Manchester.

45 acres owned by Foggy Bottom Farms, north of St. Paul Road in Hampstead.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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