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Group ends bid to annex field near Liriodendron Mansion into Bel Air limits, has sold property, town says

A group that was attempting to annex an open field between Catherine and Gordon streets near the Liriodendron Mansion into the Town of Bel Air to construct homes on the property is no longer seeking the annexation.

Liriod LLC, a company that had purchased the 1.46-acre field near the mansion in 2020, withdrew its request to annex the property on July 9, Bel Air spokesperson Patti Parker said, because the property had been sold. It is unclear who bought the land, and state property records do not reflect any change in its ownership.

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Twice the LLC had tried to bring the property within Bel Air town limits. It first proposed construction of three homes, which the Bel Air Planning Commission had recommended in October. That attempt failed by a narrow vote of the Board of Town Commissioners in December.

So the company tried again, applying for annexation again earlier this year and proposing only two homes on the property. The town commissioners accepted the company’s petition for annexation at an April meeting.

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Liriod LLC is a limited liability corporation composed of other LLCs, the company’s registered agent Dennis Reimann said previously. Liriod purchased the property in March 2020, according to state records, for $160,000 when it was valued at $72,500.

Reimann did not respond to questions by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

A connection to Bel Air’s sewer system is already present on the property, and one home could be built there by right without the need for a public hearing, Bel Air’s Director of Planning Kevin Small said previously. The push to annex the property into the town limits was to gain access to its utilities, but there was precedent for homes outside of town limits to get access to its water and sewer services.

While the property could have been developed in Harford County, Reimann previously said constructing only two homes on the land would not be feasible under the county’s rules. To build in the county, the developer would have to construct four homes, a public road and a cul-de-sac in order to access the property, remain cost-effective and stay compliant with the county’s guidelines, according to the second annexation request.

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Reimann said the company did not wish to do that, as it would be costly and disruptive to the neighborhood.

During the first annexation attempt, town commissioner Erin Hughes and Mayor Amy Chmielewski voted for the annexation while commissioners Patrick Richards, Donna Kahoe and Kevin Bianca voted against it.

At the vote, Hughes and Chmielewski reasoned that bringing the property into the Bel Air’s limits gave the town more say over what was built there. The town could also have collected taxes from the homes if they were within its municipal boundaries, they said.

Throughout the two attempts, the annexation effort faced resistance from neighbors, who argued that the new development would disrupt the neighborhood and that people used the field for outdoor recreation.

Jonathan West, who lives on Gordon Street, abutting the Liriodendron Mansion property, and was at the vanguard of opposition to the annexation, said he and his neighbors felt relieved that the attempt failed.

West credited the neighborhood’s objections and the new purchaser with saving the field from development.

“I’m very, very relieved, and yeah, the field looks better than it ever has,” West said. “It doesn’t have the cloud of development hanging over it.”

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