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Harford to end Swan Harbor Farm dispute with land swap

Harford County's Parks and Recreation department wants to swap some land on Oakington Road, near Havre de Grace, to ensure it owns unimpeded access to Swan Harbor Farm, a popular nature watching and wedding venue.

The Harford County Council introduced a bill last week that would allows the county give 11.14 acres to Griffith Davis, owner of adjacent Belle Vue Farm, in exchange for just 0.98 acres that covers part of the entrance road into Swan Harbor Farm.

The county has been sparring with Davis over the exact property lines in that area since the county bought Swan Harbor in the mid-1990s, parks and recreation director Arden McClune said Monday.

The 465-acre farm, much of which is still in crop and woodlands, is one of just of a handful of properties in Harford County with frontage directly along Chesapeake Bay that isn't owned by the federal government or within the city of Havre de Grace.

"We have been talking for a number of years, and it clears some things up once and for all," McClune said about the deal with Davis. "It's something we have wanted to get cleared up."

"We get clear and undisputed property underneath the road that leads to Swan Harbor," she said. "What we are giving up is some of that Oakington farmland, but we wanted to make sure no one could come back and question [ownership of the entrance road]."

McClune said that was especially important because the property was acquired under the state's Program Open Space funding. With Davis being an older man, she said, the county has been pushing to get the deal completed, so the issue doesn't remain in limbo.

McClune said the department is confident its assessment of the property lines, which was conducted by Frederick Ward Associates, is correct, but Davis has disagreed based on his own research, done by different surveyor.

"We believe our survey was correct, but we also believe owning the driveway to Swan Harbor is a higher priority," she said.

When contacted by telephone, Davis said the matter was being handled by parks and recreation and referred all questions to McClune.

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