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Letter: Annexation and development of field near Liriodendron in Bel Air would hurt historic mansion’s value as wedding venue | READER COMMENTARY

I was confounded to learn that my beloved town would show such callus disrespect as to do anything but protect our generous gifts, Heavenly Waters Park and Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly’s idyllic summer home, Liriodendron, from anything or anyone whatsoever that would detract from their natural beauty in any way, shape or form.

For the Town to be considering the development of the field adjacent to Liriodendron, which was designed by Dr. Kelly to be a magnificent vista to be seen from the south portico of Liriodendron is nothing short of criminal. Why would the Town of Bel Air actively participate in the degradation of the property by allowing this viewscape to be hindered in any fashion?

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The Town of Bel Air owns Rockfield Manor, which is a competitor to Liriodendron for area wedding and event business. A vote to desecrate the future of Liriodendron’s wedding viability would be a disrespectful conflict of interest on the part of the Town and an affront to families from nearby neighborhoods who enjoy walking along the charming lane, heartbreaking to the brides who pose for pictures in the field.

It is irresponsible of the Town to even consider participating in an annexation deal which would be detrimental to the future expansion of the Liriodendron as a wedding venue and historic tourist attraction.

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Our current elected Town officials must carefully consider this monumental decision which will alter the course of Bel Air’s history — past, present and future. Does this group of Town officials wish to go down in history as the misguided fools who allowed and supported such a tragic decision as multi-house development on this historic property, instead of preserving one of the last remaining open spaces in the Bel Air area?

I propose that the Town pass a resolution to never again consider disrespecting Dr. Kelly’s gift to our citizens by promoting and supporting any multi-home development on the historic Liriodendron estate property known as Kelly field. Furthermore, a clause or amendment should be added to any annexation attempt providing that this historic property, which includes a majestic Dawn Redwood tree listed as a state co-champion, should not be annexed into the Town unless it is annexed as much desired open green space.

Seeing that not much attention is paid to public input at the Planning Commission or Town meetings, perhaps an important decision such as this should be added to the next elective ballot. Believe me, I am not the only one appalled that the Town of Bel Air or Harford County would side with greedy developers rather than do anything within their means to preserve the Kelly property for further generations.

The perfect use for the Federal pandemic relief money would be to purchase this idyllic field for the Town, which would provide open space for the public to enjoy for dog walking, yoga, and family gatherings. If we learned anything from this pandemic — it is that fresh air and meditative open space is important to both our physical and mental health.

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The townspeople would be overjoyed to see the property saved from development and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

JONATHAN WEST

Bel Air

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