Baltimore County Digest

Baltimore County Digest

August 02, 2006

Towson gas station site to become a park

Baltimore County government plans to condemn the former site of a Shell gas station in downtown Towson and replace it with a public park, officials announced yesterday.

The plans, which require County Council approval, call for the government's first use of eminent domain since the late 1990s, officials said.

Smith said the government would hold community meetings on possible uses for the lot, a third of an acre on York Road near the Towson traffic circle. He said one option is a memorial for war veterans.

The government would pay the owner of the property, Motiva Enterprises LLC, the lot's market value, which Smith estimated to be $500,000. The state would provide $175,000 in bonds for the purchase under legislation approved by the General Assembly earlier this year, said state Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat.

Smith said he is resorting to eminent domain - the process through which a government entity takes ownership of a private property in the name of public good - because negotiations between the county and the property owner for the sale of the land faltered.

He said the county and the company disagree on which entity would assume liability for any environmental cleanup of the site.

"To protect county taxpayers, it is imperative that Shell Oil continue to have that liability," Smith said.

Karyn Leonardi-Cattolica, a spokeswoman for Motiva, a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Refining, wrote in an e-mail yesterday that the two sides "were unable to agree on purchase terms."

Josh Mitchell

Owings Mills

Fire damages Garrison Forest dorm

A two-alarm fire believed caused by a defective attic fan caused at least $100,000 damage to a dormitory building at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills yesterday evening, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman said.

The fire was reported at 6:58 p.m., and was battled by 80 firefighters with 17 pieces of apparatus who confined it to the attic of the two-story, 150-foot-long dormitory building. It was being used this summer for teeenage male campers, said Lt. Patrick Taylor, the spokesman.

The fire was declared under control at 7:43 p.m.

Taylor said only a counselor was in the building at the time of the fire and he escaped unhurt.

Taylor said the second alarm was sounded to bring more firefighters to the scene to relieve others because of excessive heat and humidity. No injuries were reported among firefighters.

"We normally relieve firefighters every 30 minutes in the summer heat, but this time it was every 10 to 15 minutes," Taylor said.

Richard Irwin

Reisterstown

Man sought in gas station robbery

Baltimore County police were seeking the public's help in identifying a man who robbed a gas station last week in Reisterstown.

A knife-wielding man robbed the Shell station in the first block of Main Street about 11:30 p.m. July 23, police said. The man took a few items to the checkout counter. When the clerk rang them up and opened the cash register, the man pulled out a knife and demanded money. He fled after being given an undisclosed amount, police say.

The suspect was described as black, 30 to 35 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing about 200 pounds, with braided black hair and a small goatee. He was wearing black pants, a white T-shirt and a black baseball cap.

Police ask that anyone with information call the department at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7-LOCKUP. Callers to Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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