Havre de Grace could soon annex 241 acres near Route 155 (Level Road) and Bulle Rock Parkway, if the city council acts to accept annexation requests presented to the city council Monday. The annexation process is expected to take about six months.
The larger of two tracts, just over 227 acres, is known as the Green and Patrone properties, and would be annexed along with a nearly 14-acre strip known as the Ianiello property. The entire area encompasses what has historically been known as Mt. Felix Farm.
The Green/Patrone tract is eight separate properties off the east side of Bulle Rock Parkway.
Several tenants live on the site, which is zoned agricultural and owned by Jonathan Green and Charlotte Patrone. The annexation request was made by the property owners, as is specified under state law.
The properties contain a historic residence, several unattached farm houses, attendant barns and farm buildings and are served by private water and sewer, according to an annexation resolution introduced at Monday's city council meeting.
The proposed use is "mixed use," which could include single-family or multi-family homes, commercial uses, office space or a gas station. The proposed city zoning would be RB – residential business.
According to the resolution, the owners must submit a concept plan for development of the property that would need to be approved by the city council before an actual site plan is submitted for review and approval. The interior roads within the development — which would be turned over to the city — must connect with neighboring developments Scenic Manor (still under construction) and Grace Harbour, the resolution states.
Building on the Green/Patrone and Ianiello properties would push intense development along Route 155 west to I-95, where Upper Chesapeake Health plans to build a new hospital and surrounding office/research campus between I-95 and Bulle Rock Parkway.
Council members said Monday the public would have plenty of opportunities for feedback on the proposed annexations.
Councilman Joe Smith said he understands annexation provides a "unique opportunity" to put restrictions or specifications on the property that the city would not otherwise have under existing zoning, or if the properties were developed under county rather than city control.
Smith said if the annexation does go through, the city would lose "a major agricultural asset."
"I'm a little hesitant that as we start to expand out and grow the community, I don't know if there's any other large piece of agricultural land in the city of Havre de Grace," Smith said. "I'm not entirely sure if that's the right thing to do but we do have to take control of our destiny in terms of how we plan the city."
Councilman Fred Cullum said he knows at some point the property will be developed, especially when Upper Chesapeake Health develops its property west of Bulle Rock Parkway. The hospital/medical campus plan has been under city planning review for more than a year.
"I would much rather have this be part of the city than part of the county," Cullum said.
Cullum added that he thinks the area is part of the county's development envelope, "so there is no doubt it [development] is going to happen."
The development envelope marks where development can occur in the county. It was expanded slightly during the most recent county land use update and comprehensive zoning review.
Council President Randy Craig said all the legislation must come back and be approved by the council, so there are "several bites of the apple" to make sure the public is informed of the annexation proposal.
It will go the planning board and is expected to be about six months out from full approval, Mayor Wayne Dougherty said.