Appeals board authorizes demolition of historic house in Brooklyn Park


The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals has given the go-ahead for the demolition of a dilapidated but historic house in Brooklyn Park.

The board voted 4-3 to overturn the county Office of Planning and Code Enforcement's decision not to issue a permit to raze the house, according to minutes of a closed session the appeals board held last week.

County officials said they would not comment on the vote until they had read the decision, which may not come out for a month.

Neither the owner of the property, Georgia O. Clift of Connecticut, nor her lawyer could be reached yesterday.

The house, in the 5600 block of Ballman Ave., sits atop a 10-acre knoll.

It has been on the Maryland inventory of historic places since 1985 and has been a source of contention in the neighborhood ever since.

Attorney Thomas A. Pavlinic once planned to buy the property and put 94 homes on it, but community opposition blocked the zoning approval.

In January, Mr. Pavlinic told the Board of Appeals that the roof of the house was collapsing and that Mrs. Clift could not afford to have it repaired.

Therefore, Mr. Pavlinic said, the county should allow the brick house to be demolished.

He also argued that the county could not use the state historic designation to prevent Mrs. Clift from razing the building.

She sought the demolition permit last summer and was turned down by officials who said the building was significant.

Last fall, the County Council approved a measure that forbids razing buildings on the state historic list unless they are about to fall down.

County planning officials countered that they routinely incorporate state standards into county laws and that the house was not about to collapse.

Mrs. Clift is a fourth-generation descendant of Henry Ballman, who came to Anne Arundel County in 1851 and established a 50-acre estate at what was then the southern tip of Brooklyn Park.

The house, known as the Ballman-Gischel House, was built about 1870.

One of Mr. Ballman's daughters married William Gischel, whose family, local historians believe, built the house.

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