Bel Air golf club officials urged to move or protect historic house, landmark red barn

Bel Air golf club officials urged to move or protect historic house, landmark red barn
An old photograph of the historic Joesting-Gorsuch House dating to the 1930s. The house, vacant for a number of years, is on the property of the Winters Run Golf Club, near where five new homes are planned that would result in the demolition of the older structure and a landmark red barn nearby. (Photo courtesy of C. John Sullivan Jr., Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The developers of five residential lots on land that is part of the Winters Run Golf Club near Bel Air were urged by a Harford County official and area resident to protect a historic house — which is also on the property and dates to colonial times — as the single-family houses are built.

The five-home development could also benefit from a recent change to the county's septic reserve area regulations; the County Council passed a bill in May to reduce the size of the septic reserve on a single-family lot from 20,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, giving property owners more room to improve their lots.


A preliminary plan, developed by Bay State Land Services of Forest Hill, was presented to the members of the Harford County Development Advisory Committee Wednesday morning.

Forest Hill builder Gemcraft Homes is the contract purchaser of nearly 12 acres along North Tollgate Road and near the club entrance from Tollgate.

The historic Joesting-Gorsuch House and a red barn are also on the property where the houses are proposed, and the club owners plan to have both structures demolished.

Jennifer Wilson, who represents the county's Department of Planning and Zoning on the committee, said historic preservation staffers in her department are asking the developers to "consider preservation or relocation," rather than demolition.

"It is an 18th-century dwelling, possibly dating back to as early as the 1730s, making it one of the oldest known structures in Harford County and a unique and valued historic resource," Wilson said.

C. John Sullivan Jr., of the Bel Air area, who is the former director of assessments for Harford County and the state, director of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum and a member of the county Liquor Control Board, also made a plea to preserve the Gorsuch House.

"I know progress is important, but we have so few structures left dating from that era in the county," Sullivan said during the public comment portion of the meeting. He lives just north of the golf course.

Shane Grimm, chief of the Board of Appeals and site plan review for Planning and Zoning, chaired Wednesday's DAC meeting.

"Your comments regarding the Joesting-Gorsuch House are duly noted," he told Sullivan.

The new houses will be served by septic and well water, and Len Walinski of the Harford County Health Department ran down a list of things developers must do regarding wastewater, including providing a list of current members and any projected membership growth, the various golf course operations and the "projected wastewater flows" from those uses, determining a potential maximum daily flow for the site and providing enough space on the lots for at least two replacement septic systems.

Walinski also noted the developers can reduce the size of the septic reserve area to 10,000 square feet because of the code change.

Dale Hinkle, who lives along the nearby residential street Gorsuch Garth, expressed her concern that the first five houses would open the way for greater residential development such as townhomes and condominiums.

Grimm said the land is zoned agricultural, under which only single-family homes can be built.

Mark Logsdon, of the Harford County Sheriff's Office, asked if the gate across the access road to the club would be adjusted to allow emergency vehicles access to the houses.


Mitch Ensor of Bay State, who was presenting the plan, said gate would have to be modified, possibly with a pass code.

Thomas Devlin, a resident of Hickory and a 42-year member of Winters Run, noted club officials plan to move the wrought-iron gate down the road "so that we create a new entrance to the clubhouse further down the entrance road," although the two stone pillars will remain as the homeowners' entrance to the golf course.

"From the sheriff's standpoint of access in emergencies, the gate will be moved," Devlin explained.

Perryman warehouse plan

Committee members also reviewed a preliminary plan by FB #2 LLC of Towson to subdivide its nearly 75-acre warehouse lot off Chelsea Road in Aberdeen.

The lot would be split into two smaller lots around the two warehouses that have been built on the property. The land was approved for the warehouse development in 2005.

"We want each building to be on its own lot, so we're just adding a lot line," Gerry Powell, project manager with Frederick Ward Associates of Bel Air, explained after the meeting.

A portion of the FB #2 site is in the wellhead protection zone, and several committee members emphasized protecting the wellheads, and that any tenants must be reminded of county codes that restrict activity in the facilities to protect the water resource.

"The Perryman wellfield is a large, valuable source of potable groundwater in Harford County, and it must be protected from contamination," Walinski said.

Michael Carr of the Forest Greens-Perryman Community Association asked if any improvements are proposed for Perryman Road or Chelsea Road as a result of the subdivision.

"We just are concerned with the truck traffic that is coming in and out of the peninsula," he said.

Powell said developers had made improvements to Chelsea, such as widening the road at the entrances to the site, which were required when the facilities were built.

"Any future projects on industrial zoned land in the Perryman peninsula will have to adhere to the Adequate Public Facilities provisions, and additional traffic impact analysis will be done as those projects come in," Grimm explained. "If there are any failing intersections, they'll be identified at that time and mitigation will be required."