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Aberdeen approves annexation of Wetlands Golf Course; owner plans to keep it for recreational purposes

The annexation of the Wetlands Golf Course into the City of Aberdeen was approved at a Monday meeting of the city council.

The 206 acres of land along Gilbert Road, owned by Locksley Manor, Inc., were unanimously approved to be annexed into the city. The land will continue to be used for recreational purposes, whether golf-related or not, an attorney for the project said.

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According to annexation resolution, the change will become effective in 45 days from the date of its final enactment, unless a petition for referendum is filed.

The majority of the land — three of the four parcels — will be zoned as integrated business district, which allows for residential, commercial, recreational and other uses, according to the resolution. A fourth parcel that’s about 15.8 acres will be zoned for low-density residential, permitting homes, schools, churches and other uses.

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Water and sewer mains do not currently exist under any portion of the land. Aberdeen will provide access to both its water and sewer system, according to the resolution.

Monday’s passage of the annexation resolution was the final legislative step needed to annex the property, Aberdeen’s Director of Planning and Community Development Phyllis Grover said. Before it, an annexation plan and agreement had to be approved by the council, the earliest of which was voted on in November.

The city’s planning commission also recommended the annexation, Grover said.

A public hearing on the annexation resolution was held on June 21. There, attorney for the project Bradley Stover said the goal was to get water and sewer access on the property, which will be used for recreational purposes. He said the project would aim to expand recreation in the city to accommodate new residents.

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The property could remain a golf course, Stover said, but he also floated the possibility of an indoor or outdoor ice rink. For the foreseeable future, there would be “no change in use of the property other than what currently exists now,” he said.

“The goal is what it always has been: get water and sewer out there,” Stover said. “That is the goal, whether it is golf related, not golf related, recreation for the City of Aberdeen and all those new rooftops that are coming.”

Stover said the same entity has owned the property since 1989, and that annexation was initially sought in 2005, but did not bear fruit until recently.

The annexation of the Wetlands Golf Course off Gilbert Road, shown in this November file photo, into the City of Aberdeen was approved at a Monday meeting of the city council.
The annexation of the Wetlands Golf Course off Gilbert Road, shown in this November file photo, into the City of Aberdeen was approved at a Monday meeting of the city council. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

Maryland law prohibits properties being developed for “substantially different” uses for five years after annexation, according to the legislation. When the resolution was introduced May 25, Stover said those limits on substantially different uses within the first five years of annexation can be voided with the approval of the Harford County Council.

However, there are no plans to build on the property at this time, Stover said in a Tuesday interview, and the owner has not contemplated seeking authority from the county council to change the property’s zoning to a substantially different use.

The project will be subject the the city’s revised adequate public facilities ordinance, requiring developers to consider the water and sewer capacity of the surrounding area and pay a share of improvements to the services’ infrastructure proportional to what they use.

Under the new agreement, developers are charged proportionally to the expected capacity they will use. According to the resolution, the owners of the Locksley Manor property would pay the city $599,000.

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