Mount Vista to remain a golf course

Revenue Authority buys Kingsville site at auction

January 28, 2004|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Revenue Authority yesterday purchased for $2.1 million at a public auction the financially troubled Mount Vista Golf Course in Kingsville.

The property is to remain a golf course, said George E. Hale, executive director of the authority.

The Mount Vista course is an 18-hole "executive" course -- one that can be played relatively quickly because its fairways are shorter than those on full-length courses -- and it is not near any of the other five courses operated by the revenue authority.

The acquisition "makes sense and should turn a good profit," Hale said. "Geographically, it fits a nice niche and gives an opportunity to players with a compressed amount of time."

He said that over the next 12 to 18 months, the Revenue Authority would improve the greens, tees and cart paths at Mount Vista. The authority will also be more aggressive marketing the course on the Internet, he said.

Other public courses operated by the Revenue Authority are Rocky Point, Longview, Greystone, Diamond Ridge and The Woodlands. The previous owners of the 111-acre Mount Vista course had been trying since 2002 to recover from a debt of about $2.5 million. On Dec. 31, Chesapeake Bank of Maryland began foreclosure proceedings, leading to yesterday's auction.

Jack Billig, a partner in A. J. Billig & Co., which handled the auction, said the county was one of two bidders on the property. He said the other bid was for $2 million, but he would not identify the other bidder. He said such sales are subject to Circuit Court approval, adding that the transaction could close within 60 days.

Hale said the Revenue Authority would pay for the property through a combination of cash and financing.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr., through a spokeswoman, said, "The Revenue Authority seized an opportunity that should be good for golfers, the community and, from what I understand, sounds like they got a good deal."

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. After obtaining a county building permit, owners constructed a clubhouse, but the structure was three times larger than the size approved by zoning officials.

A 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.

Yesterday, Lorraine Healey, a resident of Kingsville, said she is glad that the property will not become a housing development.

"It will be a total improvement, eventually, of what was there," she said.

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