Letter to The Aegis
4:41 PM EST, February 5, 2013
On the Editorial, "Worth Looking At," here are comments which may be helpful.
1. The Brick House is unique in the actual Bel Air area. The property went on the National List of Historic Places with adjacent Lirio[dendron]43 years ago.
2. The l835 House also has strong ties to Howard Kelly, M.D., a founder of JHU Hospital. His family lived in the Brick House, then owned it.
3. Many petitioners support acquisition. A number are Harford County notable achievers. Highly reputed Town Director Chris Schlehr and Public Relations officer Jim Welch have helped structure the project.
4. The paper states that the "property probably doesn't rise to [the Lirio] level of note ..." The National List obviously differed over four decades ago. The incredible pastoral setting begs attention, if only for Luria's sake. No Bel Air area building of a similar age and size is in as fine condition and location.
5. The paper says that "Clearly, the owners didn't regard it as being worthy of a high level of historic preservation." That is manifestly not so. That high level now exists. The reason for not taking tax deductions for over 51 years is this. Entities which grant tax benefits then often impose burdensome renovation restrictions. The Harford County Historical Society is adding its timely imprimatur on Sunday, Feb. 10. The Society plans a pleasant function at the property from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any owner could have developed the property for more financial benefit. Yet the actual price for FOUR historic buildings (plus three outbuildings, goldfish pond, unique clay tennis court and 2.85 prime acres) is $795,000. The entire tract is available for under the solid appraised price. A correction went to the paper before when it printed only the entire-tract price.
7. A puzzling statement appears that "This message [that the property has development potential] has been received by many people who live in the town limits as a petition in support of the town buying the mansion had been signed by 50 people as of last week." Signers of the petition simply ask the town to acquire the property.
8. The development potential one individual mentioned to the town is either fact as the paper says, or a very real possibility. The mention was informative truth. The enormous price drop was so the town/county can preserve the tract. As one local Realtor astutely put it, a much higher value is in development.
9. The paper rightly quotes "location, location, location." The site of the property is ideal: It further points out that the setting is even a "prescient" argument in favor of buying the property.
10. Like Lirio, the property has long been the site of many functions such as the Bel Air Lions Club crab feast. Addressing what are conjectures about an impending buyer decision would be inappropriate. Yet a mention is due that the location can provide the B&B Bel Air says it wants, the children's museum a retired town employee suggested, an ideal site for a retreat, for tours, functions such as related to Lirio weddings, even fill other purposes.
11. A special offer has issued to provide additional "land-buying leeway." The reduced price also occurred so the buyer gets a fine deal for residents.
Lirio, the Historical Society, a host of petition signers, correspondence by at least one other writer, and thousands who have enjoyed the property want to continue to enjoy it.
Thanks to the paper for interest in timely sale in the public interest.
Judith Graybeal Eagle
The writer is owner of the property being offered for sale to the Town of Bel Air.
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