Baltimore County officials are proceeding with plans to build a park on 98 acres the county seized at Falls and Greenspring Valley roads, although the previous owner is continuing to fight for the land.
The county's Development Review Committee approved plans yesterday for seven ball fields -- five of them lighted -- restrooms, a tot lot, hiking trail, a storage shed and a parking lot for 300 cars at Meadowood Park. The approval allows the county to apply for grading and building permits to construct the park.
Clarence Elder, a businessman who heads Meadowood Inc., which he says owns the land, is challenging the county's right to the property, which lies between development on Falls Road and the farms and estates of Green Spring Valley.
"I'm still paying the mortgage as I was in the past," Elder said. "As far as I am concerned, I still own it. They are moving forward at their own risk."
Elder tried several times to develop the tract but was unable to persuade county officials to change the restrictive rural zoning on the property, which permitted two houses. Most recently, he proposed offering his land for a church or children's camp.
In April, the county announced its intention to condemn the property for a park. Elder said the county was acting to take his land because he is black. A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge ruled in June that the county had proved it needed the land for recreation and that Elder had failed to prove allegations of racism.
Elder is appealing the decision. A hearing is set for next summer to determine the price of the land. The county has offered $1.5 million.
According to court records, county officials approached Valleys Planning Council, an influential land preservation group, with a plan to protect the land from development if the group would support use of some of the land for a park.
Jack Dillon, director of Valleys Planning Council, said the group is "a little" concerned about the size of the recreation area the county is planning. He said the group hopes to eliminate one of the ball fields and limit those with lights to three or four.
Valleys Planning Council and neighborhood groups in the Green Spring Valley area have complained about traffic on Falls Road and helped persuade the County Council to limit further development of the Green Spring Station office and commercial complex opposite the Meadowood property.
Developers of Green Spring Station and Greenspring Racquet Club have submitted plans for office buildings. Those plans have been denied under a new law limiting development at the corner. The law is being challenged in state and federal courts.
Pub Date: 9/21/99