County to pay $200,000 toward gas station price

Cost of Towson eyesore almost twice appraised value

school to buy site

August 03, 1999|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Hoping to rid Towson of an eyesore in its business district, the Baltimore County Council agreed last night to pay $200,000 toward the purchase of a closed gas station -- even though the price of the half-acre parcel is nearly double its appraised value.

In other action, a bill to give the council more say in developments planned on former quarries was withdrawn by the bill's sponsor, who said he wanted to work out an agreement with Arundel Corp., which is proposing two projects on quarry sites.

The council voted 6-1 to help Towson University buy the former Crown Service Station at Burke Avenue and York Road. The school wants the site in order to expand conference facilities.

The council shelved plans to help with the purchase six months ago, because members complained that the cost of the property -- $783,000 -- was $350,000 more than the appraised value.

Last night, Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, cast the lone vote against the purchase, saying he believed it was wrong to pay more than the appraised value. "I don't think it is a proper utilization of taxpayer money," he said.

Cleaning up the site has been a priority for Towson merchants and business leaders, who have been struggling to fill vacant commercial spaces.

County Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon said he believed the land was worth more than the appraisal because of its strategic location. "The redevelopment of this parcel is key to the gateway of Towson and the business corridor," he said.

Councilman Wayne M. Skinner, a Towson Republican, said the purchase is also important because Towson is short of conference facilities.

The fate of the quarry bill hinges on the outcome of discussions between the bill's sponsor, Council Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz, and representatives of the Arundel Corp.

Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat, said he has met twice with Arundel representatives to talk about scaling back a proposal to build 800 homes on the 286-acre site of Greenspring Quarry, which is expected to close this year.

The size of the potential cutback at Greenspring Quarry has yet to be determined, Kamenetz said.

Rob Hoffman, a lawyer representing Arundel Corp., said his client is pleased the bill was withdrawn. "We are going to try to devise a plan that addresses some of his concerns," he said.

The company said it would try to present revised plans in three months.

Even if the two sides agree on the size of the Greenspring development, Kamenetz said he might pursue legislation that would give the council greater say in developments that are planned on the sites of former quarries.

In 1984, the council passed a law that exempts quarry reclamation plans from later changes in zoning or development regulations. The law requires only planning board approval and allows approved quarry plans to be renewed every 15 years.

Arundel won planning board approval in 1985 for 800 homes and numerous shops and businesses at the Greenspring Quarry site. The approval was renewed in 1995.

The Hunt Valley company also won approval in January for 100 single-family homes, 120 townhouses and 256 apartments and an 80,000-square-foot village center at the 125-acre Delight Quarry site in Owings Mills.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.