Officials set to condemn 25 acres Balto. County wants land for parks before Honeygo prices soar; $385,000 offer made; New owner, marketing the site for homes, is asking $1.5 million


As part of their continuing search for green space in the fledgling Honeygo community, Baltimore County officials are set to condemn a 25-acre parcel being marketed as a site for residential development.

The county -- seeking to set aside park property before development in Honeygo drives land prices skyward -- could initiate condemnation proceedings as early as next month unless the owners of the parcel accept a $385,000 offer, officials said.

But the property owner calls the county's offer ridiculously low for land with development potential. The owner's asking price: $1.5 million.

"If they are going to take it from us, we want as much as we can get," said Lorrie Del Pizzo, daughter of Vincent Del Pizzo, who bought the property for $375,000 in March. "If they are not going to take it, they should just leave us alone."

The county notified Mr. Del Pizzo a week ago that it intended to condemn the property if the offer was not accepted, said Shirley M. Murphy, head of the county's Bureau of Land Acquisition.

The county's move comes three months after a public outcry forced the county to drop plans to seize a family farm and use it as the centerpiece park in Honeygo. The owner of the farm, who said he wanted to continue farming, refused to sell the land.

Michael H. Davis, aide to Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, said the county has not ruled out condemnation in other cases when property owners are willing to sell but not at the county's price.

As an example, he said, the county will begin condemnation next month on a 95-acre Green Spring Valley parcel at the coveted corner of Greenspring Valley and Falls roads. While the owner insists the property is not for sale, county officials -- who envision athletic fields and nature trails -- say the land was for sale as recently as last fall.

The county is preparing to condemn a parcel in Woodlawn for use as athletic fields near the planned Dogwood Elementary School, Davis said.

In Honeygo, the county has purchased two parcels for community parks and is seeking to buy several others, hoping to purchase parkland before most of the 4,800 housing units planned for the community are built.

Waiting would be expensive, they say, noting the $5.3 million the county spent on parkland after growth in Owings Mills consumed nearly all available land in that area.

This year, county officials offered $385,000 for the 25-acre parcel now owned by Del Pizzo. They raised the possibility of condemnation proceedings with the family that then owned the land on Cowenton Avenue at the southern edge of the 3,000-acre Honeygo community.

That family sold the land to Del Pizzo, a neighbor, in March. The day after he bought it, Del Pizzo put 20 acres of the land up for sale. The property could be developed to include about 80 houses, his real estate agent said.

The county has renewed its $385,000 offer, saying it reflects the appraised value of the land. But the Del Pizzos complain the offer would not cover the purchase price and real estate fees, and say the family prefers to build houses on part of the site and keep some land for horse pastures.

Officials are continuing to search for property for a larger complex of athletic fields that could also serve the Perry Hall and White Marsh areas.

Pub Date: 5/20/98


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