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Historic Heritage Hill property in Bel Air set to become an assisted-living facility

Heritage Hill will remain a 'beautiful, old property' after conversion to assisted living, lawyer says

A historic Vale Road home, just north of Bel Air, could be converted into an assisted-living facility if the contract purchasers of the property are able to secure a special zoning exception from Harford County.

David and Joyce Apperson, of Bel Air, who would operate the facility on the property known as Heritage Hill, are the applicants for the required special exception which will be the subject of hearing before Zoning Hearing Examiner Robert Kahoe Wednesday evening at the County Council chambers in Bel Air.

"There is a real demand for this type of service," Bel Air attorney John Gessner, who is representing the Appersons, said Monday.

He noted the local population of senior citizens is growing, along with the need for affordable facilities that will support their day-to-day living and medical needs.

The Appersons want to create a facility that can house up to 14 people, according to their application posted on the Harford County website. The facility that they plan to operate is classified as a personal care boarding home in the county zoning code.

Personal care boarding homes are allowed in agricultural, rural and urban residential and village business and village residential districts, according to the code.

They are only allowed as special exceptions, however, and, according to Gessner, that means prospective operators must go through the appeals process.

The applicants must show that the facility will be in a detached, single-family home, that the proposed use meets the minimum lot size for a single-family home in the zoning district, a density of up to one boarder per 2,000 square feet, that all county and state regulations for the operation have been satisfied, and, if the building is new, it looks similar to surrounding single-family homes, according to the code.

"The only approval we're asking for, the only approval we can get, is to provide the personal care to [seniors]," Gessner said.

The structure in question in Case 5872, which will be heard Wednesday, is far from new. The two-story stone, 6,798 square-foot dwelling was built around 1863, according to the Appersons' application.

The house, along with newer outbuildings, sits on 3.24 acres in the 300 block of Vale Road between the Bel Air Bypass and Steed Lane.

Daniel Scott acquired the property in 1863 and started building the front section of the main house a short time later, according to an excerpt in the book "An Architectural History of Harford County, Maryland," by the late Christopher Weeks.

Daniel Scott was part of a family that was "arguably responsible for the every existence of" Bel Air, according to Weeks' book. His great-grandfather, Aquila Scott, began deeding lots for the development of the town in 1789, according to the website Virtual Harford.

Diana Harloe and her late husband, William A. Harloe Jr., are listed as the current owners, according to online property records.

Mr. Harloe died in August of 2012 at age 63. An owner of eight Burger King restaurants in Baltimore and Harford counties, he had been president of the Mid-Atlantic Franchisee Association and chair of the National Franchisee Association, according to his obituary.

A Garceau Realty is posted on the property, but it is no longer listed for sale on the firm's website. Owner and broker Georgeanna Garceau could not be reached as of Monday evening.

The current assessed value of the property for tax purposes is $581,600, according to online property records. It was sold to the Harloes in 1986 for $345,000. Diana Harloe could not be reached for comment Monday.

Heritage Hill is surrounded by residential developments, and Bel Air Memorial Gardens is nearby. The buildings are screened by "mature trees and established landscaping," according to the application.

The additional structures include a stone guest house, a two-story, five-bay garage with offices, an in-ground pool and a pool house, according to the application.

Gessner said it is "ideally situated" and a "nice, big piece of property."

"These are very quiet residential areas, and given the location where it sits on Vale Road, it's a good spot," he said.

The Appersons have reached out to surrounding residents and homeowners' associations, Gessner said. He noted residents have not expressed opposition so far, and the county's People's Counsel, which represents local residents in zoning cases where there is typically opposition, is not involved.

The Appersons do not plan to change the exterior of the house and would add nine parking spaces, according to the application.

"It's a beautiful old property," Gessner said. "It's going to stay that way."

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