The County Council voted, 7-0, Tuesday to allow the expansion of theRiverside development near Belcamp onto 23 acres of designated Chesapeake Bay critical areas land along Church Creek and the Bush River.

If the state Critical Areas Commission approves the council action, the developer of the site, Church Creek II Limited Partnership, will be able to proceed with plans to buy the 23 acres from BLC Properties Inc., formerly Bata Land Co. Inc.

Church Creek II Limited Partnership plans to build between 265 and 270 single-family homes on the property as part of the second phaseof the Riverside development, county planning and zoning administrators said. The Riverside residential development and industrial park is near Belcamp off of Route 7.

"This is the third Critical Areas Growth Allocation we've received in the last six years -- a total of 80.8 acres," said Paul Gilbert, president of BLC Properties Inc. "I like to think it's because we have a good project."

Under the Critical Areas Growth Allocation program each county bordering the bay was granted a certain percentage of land within the designated critical area that could be used for development.

In Harford, the growth allocation consists of 278 acres -- about half of which was previously undisturbed land. Permission to de

velop land within Harford's critical area is awarded by the council.

The council denied two other growth allocation petitions Tuesday.

The council denied a 7.4 acregrowth allocation for Foster Knoll, near Mariner Point Park in Havrede Grace. The developer of that project wanted to build 10 single-family homes on the property and was willing to grant a 50-foot waterfront easement to the county.

The other petition that was denied wasa request for a 10-acre growth allocation by Ward Bosely Co. Inc. that would have been included in the Otter Creek Landing development planned in Edgewood along the Bush River.

That petition, presented by Robert S. Lynch, a Bel Air lawyer with the firm of Stark & Keenan, also was denied on a 7-0 vote, after council members listened to morethan an hour of testimony in public hearings.

Lynch said that denial of the growth allocation, the third request in three years, wouldnot halt the project.

Gilbert said he tried to emphasize to the council in BLC Properties' petition that the company's efforts in Riverside have helped the county financially, through a contribution of about $1.5 million in annual taxes, and from an environmental standpoint.

"The original Bata holding was 1,475 acres," said Gilbert. "Ofthat, more than 500 acres will end up being open space. We've planted 6,200 trees in the last six years, including about 1,200 trees in the Riverside Industrial Park."

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