Forty members of the Arundel Improvement Association gathered at Thursday night's meeting to express their concern about the future of an11-acre property off Ballman Avenue in Brooklyn Park.
Local residents have pleaded to keep the area as it is, but developer Tom Pavlinic discussed his ideas about expanding the site with possible commercial or public facilities.
"We may be blue-collar workers, but we're no dummies," said Frances Jones, president of the association for 10 years. "We know that (the developers) are just in this to make money, and they have no concern for the continuity of this community."
Sixteen years ago, during former County Executive Joe Alton's administration, according to Jones, it was promised to the community that it could purchase the property if it was sold. "But everyone seems to have lost their memory," she said.
The site is owned by Georgia Clift, whose family has owned the house for 47 years. Now living in New Hampshire, she is waiting to sell the house.
The county in the last few years placed the property on the state historic register. Donna Ware, a historical siteplanner for the county, explained at the meeting that the property'shistorical significance is the construction date, 1894.
But the site's historical designation does not keep it from being passed into the hands of developers.
"Being historic doesn't mean that all of a sudden you achieve some kind of status, or that you're taken care of automatically," Ware said. "It's mainly a recognition type of list,just to identify where these historical buildings are located."
Pavlinic, who is also a lawyer representing Clift, was originally hired by Clift to rezone her property to increase the permitted number ofunits per acre, thereby increasing its value. But after talking withthe community members and the Office of Planning and Zoning, he accepted the county's suggestion to maintain the low density. The low-density zoning permits the building of town homes and public facilities.
"I've tried to establish myself in the community and build some rapport with the local inhabitants in an effort to work together to make sure that the project satisfies everyone's needs," Pavlinic said, "and that when the project is done, everybody's happy.
"Not only would it bring new blood into the community, it would increase its value, and it doesn't have anything other than a positive effect," he said.
Despite Pavlinic's assessments, residents such as Deborah Odell, who has lived in the area for 11 years, say they will lose controlof the close-knit community they've established.
"These people are not concerned with our needs," Odell said. "Expanding this area with town homes and facilities will not fit in here."
Decisions aboutthis expansion have not been made. Jones speculated that it could take some time.
"We have to be very patient while they throw their ideas to the wind," Jones said, "but we are most concerned about the lifestyles of the people."