Open space is a coveted rarity in Towson, which is why Baltimore County officials are touting plans by the government to acquire 2.5 acres of Radebaugh Florist property off Aigburth Avenue to preserve it from potential development.
But the attorney for Radebaugh called the announcement "premature."
"Not only have we not signed anything, we haven't even seen the contract yet," said Daniel Radebaugh, a Towson-based real estate lawyer, whose, father, Stephen Radebaugh, is a principal in CM and JL Radebaugh Co., LLLP, which owns the land in question.
"I think the county acted a little bit quickly. We're at the very early states of negotiations," Daniel Radebaugh said.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Friday that the site would become "passive parkland."
Radebaugh Florist, 120 Burke Ave., currently uses the land on Aigburth Avenue, as warehouse and greenhouse space, according to a county government press release. The county is buying the land at its appraised price of $1.1 million, using Program Open Space money, the news release states.
"The property is zoned for residential development, and this purchase prevents the development of this area," the release states.
The county is buying the west side of the property with the greenhouses, and would raze the greenhouses, Donald Mohler III, who is Kamenetz's chief of staff, said in a separate email. Radebaugh's would retain the warehouse portion of the property, Mohler said.
County Councilman David Marks, who along with Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins worked with the county government on the acquisition effort, praised the county's announcement as "very big news" and a boon for residents of the nearby communities of Aigburth Manor, Towson Manor Village and Burkleigh Square. Marks said Towson High School nearby might also benefit by using the land for events.
The contract of sale is scheduled to go before the County Council on Aug. 3, the county press release states. Assuming the council approves the contract, the county then would hold at least one public hearing to get input from residents on what the land should be used for, Marks said.
Open space has been a priority for Towson-area residents. Some have called for Towson University to add more open space as it updates its master plan. In March, more than 200 people packed a Planning Board meeting and called for larger open space fees from developers, saying there aren't enough parks or sports fields in the area.
Marks said he thinks the acquisition would be the first in the Towson area since the county purchased the land for Overbrook Park in 1992.
"There aren't many place like this" in the area, Marks said.
Marks also said that a developer was interested in building townhouses on the site. Marks said he doesn't know who the developer was, but that he spoke in recent months with the real estate broker and made it known that he preferred that the property remain as open space.
If the contract is approved, "I think this [land] becomes a very nice pocket park," Marks said.
"We're very happy," said Paul Hartman, vice president of the Aigburth Manor Association of Towson, a community group, and past president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations. "We've been hoping for this since we heard that [the florist was] thinking about selling part of their property."
Hartman said residents don't want a dense housing project in their "old and well-established neighborhood," but that the site would make a good park or recreation athletic field. He thinks it might be too small to fit a field, but would be fine as green space.
Marks said he thinks the contract will be approved and that a park would represent a "legacy" left by the Radebaugh family, whose florist business has been in Towson since 1924.
"I am very pleased to be able to add more passive open space in Towson," Kamenetz said in the press release. In April, Kamenetz announced a $4.2 million project to expand the Courthouse Gardens to Patriot Plaza between the Historic Courthouse and the Towson Courts building.
"Adding this [Radebaugh] space to the recently announced expansion of the Courthouse Gardens provides residents with two very nice areas to enjoy with family and friends right in the heart of Towson, and represents an investment of over $5 million for new parks in downtown Towson," Kamenetz said.