Balto. County school is buying land in Howard

May 02, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County religious school is buying surplus Howard County government land for a new campus in Cooksville, solving three separate problems.

Woodmont Academy, now in Woodstock, would pay $1.5 million for about 62 acres along Route 144, subject to approval by the county Board of Appeals of a conditional use to allow a school. The contract was signed last week, said James M. Irvin, county public works director, and Woodmont Principal Michele L. Blum.

The Catholic school owns a 53-acre residentially zoned tract in western Howard between routes 32 and 97, but nearby residents have fought against a new campus there, noting potential traffic problems.

The Cooksville deal would solve that dispute and also aid the county, which has been selling surplus properties to raise money for a planned government office complex in Ellicott City.

And the purchase would solve a major problem for the fast-growing parochial school, now crammed on 7 acres off Old Court Road near the Patapsco River.

Enrollment has jumped from 49 pupils in 1995 when the school, which has kindergarten through eighth grade, was founded to an enrollment of 232 this year, Blum said.

"We expect 270 next year, and we need to add on two more classrooms," she said. "It is exciting that we're growing."

Next year, each grade through the sixth will have two classes.

Obtaining approvals and building a campus would likely take at least three years, Blum said.

Brian Auger of Columbia, who has a third-grader at Woodmont and a daughter who attended the school in its first year, said a new campus would add a lot.

"It's nice to have athletic fields, and room," he said.

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