Key School wins court battle to use golf course for athletic fields

An Anne Arundel County judge handed the Key School a victory Tuesday, allowing the 55-year-old Annapolis private school to go ahead with plans to turn the 70-acre Annapolis Golf Club into an outdoor campus for athletics.

A request by residents of the surrounding Annapolis Roads community to block the proposed landscape of playing fields, tennis courts, parking lot and a maintenance facility was turned down by Circuit Judge Paul G. Goetzke.

An appeal, however, is possible.

"This is an important day for us," said Marcella Yedid, head of the school, noting that the school has been working with Anne Arundel County on the site plan.

Wesley Jones, president of the school's board of trustees, said the judge found the school's proposed uses were consistent with those in a 1987 agreement with the golf course property's previous owners.

Jones lives in the community where each side had supporters and where the association board had agreed to provide $30,000 toward the residents' legal battle.

The neighborhood was designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm in the 1920s. The site is about two miles from the school, which lies in the Hillsmere area. Officials said there's no room to expand there. With insufficient space for all of its sports programs, Key parcels out teams to rented field space. The school goes from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

"This is the first time it's gone our way in nine years," said George Graefe, a golf pro who owns the nine-hole course and saw earlier plans to sell it fizzle.

Much of the acreage is in the county's Critical Area zone, where change is limited. The Annapolis Roads group had contended that the school's plans were educational, not recreational, and that only recreational, horticultural and related uses are allowed on the site. Finding the school's planned uses were recreational, Goetzke denied opponents' request for a permanent injunction.

"We obviously disagree with the judge's decision. We will explore our options and decide what's best for the community," said George Glover, a longtime resident who called the neighborhood "a piece of paradise in the midst of an urban area."

Glover was among those who said the Key School's plans would ruin the neighborhood's serenity. Recently, lawns in the neighborhood have sprouted "Preserve Annapolis Roads" signs.

The community has fought for more than two decades against development, and several years ago bought Ogleton Woods, a 30-acre parcel along the southern edge of the golf course, to block the possibility of development there.

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