Preservation measure runs into legal hitch

County Council expected to withdraw property bill

November 30, 2003|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

A bill before the County Council to preserve about 35 acres of western Harford farmland is expected to be withdrawn Tuesday night, after a mix-up in how payments would be made to the property owners.

Payments from the agricultural preservation program can be made in installments or lump sums, but different legal procedures are needed, depending on the method, said council President Robert S. Wagner. Bills govern installment payments, while resolutions cover lump sums.

The Manor Conservancy, which has put together a consortium of private investors, donations and county preservation funding, needs the lump sum payment to go to settlement, said, Albert "Jay" Young, vice president of the conservancy.

The council plans to withdraw the bill and introduce a lump-sum resolution during its regular business meeting, Wagner said.

The property, owned by Sterling Lytle, has just three development rights but is contiguous to a number of properties already preserved along the Harford-Baltimore County line. The county would spend $3,500 an acre to purchase about 35 acres of land, Young said.

The farm is at the corner of Jarrettsville Pike and Hess Road.

In other business, the council will hear two presentations. During the first, accounting firm Reznick, Fedder & Silverman will present its audit of the county's budget and annual financial report.

Ernest Crist, manager of the Emergency Operations Center, will present the county's comprehensive public safety plan to the council as it considers a bill requested by County Executive James M. Harkins to exempt public safety communications towers from the zoning code.

Council members also are expected to consider nominees for the adequate public facilities task force, which is to be formed under legislation adopted by the panel this year, Wagner said.

The task force is to have six members, including the schools Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas or her designee; a County Council member; and appointees nominated by the Harford County Council of PTAs; the county executive; the Department of Planning and Zoning; and the Board of Education.

Also, the council will elect a vice president, a job with a one-year term that begins each December. Lance C. Miller, a Republican representing the northern part of the county, is finishing his term as vice president.

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