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Columbia OKs $30 million spending plan Golf course, rise in fees approved


Columbia's property lien rates will remain the same for another year, but hefty increases will come in the rates non-Columbians pay to join the city's recreational facilities under a new, $30 million spending plan the Columbia Council passed last night.

In putting its stamp of approval on the 1993-1994 spending plan for the unincorporated city, the council also approved spending $5.2 million to build Fairway Hills, a new 18-golf golf course.

The project is planned for 204 acres in the villages of Dorsey's Search, Town Center, and Wilde Lake, and was among $10 million in capital spending the council approved in the new budget, which takes effect May 1.

In approving the golf course project, the council added a carefully crafted condition that bars construction money from being spent on the golf course until the council has fully reviewed a proposal from a developer to become partners in building a different course.

John Hansen made the proposal and council members debated its wording for about 35 minutes. They finally agreed to add several amendments that set a time frame for a decision.

The amended condition gives developers of the proposal 45 days in which to provide the council with answers to financial, legal and other questions.

If the council deems the proposal worthy of further consideration, it could take another 55 more days to study it.

The developer's project would have to show "significantly greater" advantages when compared to the Fairway Hills project, the condition states.

The developers, J. P. Bolduc, president and chief executive officer of W.R. Grace & Co., and Thomas J. Scrivener, a Howard-based home builder, want to form a partnership with the county and the Columbia Association to build and operate a golf course on a 335-acre tract north of the village of Harper's Choice.

The council also approved leaving the property lien assessment for Columbians unchanged at 73 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The approved budget includes new membership rates for residents and non-residents joining Columbia's recreation facilities and community programs.

Rates for Columbia residents will rise no more than 3 percent. Rates for non-residents buying new memberships will rise between 8 and 30 percent.

In other major changes in the budget, the council:

* Adopted a policy that bars the sale of new daily and annual memberships in the Hobbit's Glen Golf Course to nonresidents. Current nonresident members will be able to renew their memberships.

* Added $75,000 in planning funds for a pool in the neighborhood of Kendal Ridge.

* Eliminated golf as an amenity to nonresidents in the most popular recreational memberships.

* Established a policy that restricts daily admission of adults to most Columbia Association facilities to Columbia residents. Not included in the policy are the ice rink, roller skating rink and water amusement center.

* Raised the fee charged to sign up for the "Sister Cities" student exchange program with cities in France and Spain. Columbia residents will pay $140; nonresidents, $200. Students from qualifying low-income families will be granted discounts.

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