Kingsville golf course up for auction

Mount Vista owners failed to repay bank debt

property on block today

January 27, 2004|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

The Mount Vista Golf Course in Kingsville, troubled by bouts with Baltimore County bureaucracy, legal wrangling and money problems, is being placed on the auction block today.

Since 2002, owners of the 111-acre course have been attempting to dig out from under a debt of about $2.5 million owed to Chesapeake Bank of Maryland.

Daniel P. Crispino, a co-owner, and Robert Scarlett, a lawyer for the golf course, said last week the owners were attempting to secure a loan to pay their debt with the bank but were unsuccessful.

The auction will be handled by A.J. Billig & Co. of Baltimore and is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the golf course.

"We have had a tremendous amount of interest from prospective bidders," said Jack Billig, a partner in the auction firm.

Interest, Billig said, has come from local and national companies. While declining to identify those firms, he said potential bidders are looking either to keep the property on Mount Vista Road as a golf course or convert it to "other purposes."

In July 2002, Chesapeake Bank filed a foreclosure against Mount Vista and prepared to auction the property, saying the owners stopped making payments on loans totaling $2.5 million. The owners countered with a lawsuit against the bank, saying that they had been making loan payments and sometimes overpaid.

The next month, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr. postponed the bank's foreclosure. Later that year, however, the owners were unable to raise sufficient funds to make payments to the bank and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to reorganize their debts and keep the course open.

Those efforts failed, and on Dec. 31, the bank began foreclosure proceedings. The 18-hole course, first proposed in the late 1980s and in operation by 1995, has been the subject of a series of clashes involving its owners and neighbors.

Neighbors opposed the owners' plans to expand the business into a country club with a liquor license.

With a county building permit, owners constructed a clubhouse, but the structure was three times larger than the size approved by county zoning officials. A county zoning commissioner rejected the course's request to expand into a country club, but he stopped short of ordering the owners to demolish the clubhouse.

The county Board of Appeals later ruled that the course could not open a lighted driving range and a kitchen.

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