Land sales come with controversies

It took a year, but Baltimore County government now can sell three parcels of land to private companies.
One of the properties is in Randallstown. It was the least controversial of the bunch.
Under County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's proposal, unanimously approved by the County Council this month, the police substation on Liberty Road - near Offutt Road - was sold for $275,000 to Genesis HealthCare, which runs a 160-bed, skilled nursing facility next to and behind the substation.
Genesis plans to demolish the 50-year-old building - originally the Randallstown Post Office - and replace it with much-needed parking for its nursing home.
It's a win-win solution, part of the county executive's effort to make local government "innovative, responsible and efficient."
The county not only gets $275,000 to upgrade Randallstown public schools, it can terminate two leases and move the police substation into a former car dealership on Liberty Road that's been renovated for the county's Vehicle Operation and Management agency.
There's space there for the police, too, giving law enforcement officers roomy and modern digs.
As a bonus, the old substation site goes onto the tax rolls. It will produce property tax revenue year after year from Genesis.
There was no community opposition to this common-sense, cost-efficient move.
That wasn't true with the other land sales.
Dundalk residents loudly objected to the $2.1 million sale of the North Point Government Center at Wise Avenue and Merritt Boulevard.
Opposition not only proved fruitless but defied logic.
The Dundalk Police Station there will move to a renovated elementary school; area schools with low attendance are being consolidated, and money from the sale will pay for air conditioning and a technology upgrade in Dundalk schools.
Additionally, the developer is building a retail Town Center on half of the old county site while also constructing a new recreation center for the community that includes play fields, a gazebo pavilion and an amphitheater.
Not a bad deal.
In Towson, meanwhile, the sale of a fire station site at York Road and Bosley Avenue prompted prolonged controversy.
The original relocation spot for the fire station - a park in Towson Manor Village, sparked outrage.
This led Kamenetz to find another site -- a county-owned fuel station near the Courthouse at Bosley Avenue and Towsontown Boulevard.
That proved only half the battle.
Residents living in proximity of the current, outdated fire station protested construction of a Royal Farms convenience store and gas station, a restaurant and perhaps a bank.
Their objections proved unpersuasive.
The county reaped $8.5 million, the developer will pay a significant annual property tax bill, Towson adds retailers, the Fire Department gets a modern station and leftover proceeds will help pay for air conditioners in area schools.
All three deals help government cut costs, add to the tax rolls and enhance public services.
It was an example of how citizens want their elected leaders to act.
Columnist Barry Rascovar, a Reisterstown resident, can be reached at brascovar@hotmail.com.

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