$2.8 million gift puts an end to 5-year war over land plans

Builder helps school buy Green Spring Valley site

April 18, 2000|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Nearly 80 acres of prime Green Spring Valley real estate near St. Timothy's School will be transformed into a campus for Baltimore-based Odyssey School and a gated community of 19 luxury homes, ending a five-year neighborhood dispute.

Greenspring Investment Group LLC, a group of 19 private investors, has donated $2.8 million to the Odyssey School, allowing the school to purchase 42 acres from St. Timothy's. Gaylord Brooks Investment Co. Inc. has purchased 36 adjacent acres, where it will build the Bridle Ridge development.

The sale of the two parcels -- on Cottage Lane, south of Greenspring Valley Road in Stevenson -- occurred late last week.

In 1995, St. Timothy's announced plans to sell 75 acres of its 234-acre campus to a developer who wanted to build 63 single-family homes on the site. Officials said the sale was necessary to boost the endowment at St. Timothy's, a 114-year-old school for girls.

The plans sparked protests by neighbors, who expressed concern about the density of the development and its effect on public school enrollments and property values.

"In terms of it being a win-win situation, it's delightful that Odyssey School will have a new home and the number of homes built will be less," Deborah M. Cook, head of St. Timothy's, said yesterday.

A neighbor who fought the original proposal agreed.

"I think that it's a very wise compromise," said Kitty Miton, who lives north of the proposed development. "It's an area worth preserving. That's why the community fought so hard against the plan for more homes."

The money raised from the sale of the land will be used for salaries and benefits for St. Timothy's faculty, financial aid for students and campus maintenance, Cook said.

Odyssey School has an enrollment of 140 students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. With money in place to buy the land, the school's board of trustees has approved a plan to construct a building that will contain classrooms; a community room; art, music and science rooms; a library and a gymnasium.

Odyssey will maintain educational services at its 4906 Roland Ave. campus, but school officials said the former residential structure is no longer adequate.

"The investors decided to forgo a potential profit on the development of the land and instead make an extraordinarily generous gift that will benefit the Odyssey School and at the same time preserve more of the rural character of the land," said Jack Machen of the Mount Washington law firm of Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe LLP, which represents the investment group.

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