State ending land purchases

The Baltimore Sun

Eight years ago next month, the state bought 600 acres surrounding Deep Creek Lake, Western Maryland's prime vacation spot, to keep it from looking like Coney Island.

The lake was added to the state parks system while most of the surrounding land was put up for sale to adjacent property owners.

But the so-called Buydown Program is coming to an end.

"We're trying to get through to people who haven't participated," said David Humphrey, Department of General Services spokesman. "They have until the end of the year, but they have to start thinking about it and planning for it."

Any leftover land will remain in state control, and the public will have access.

The state's purchase through Program Open Space was part of an ambitious plan that included buying the 3,900-acre lake, the state's largest body of freshwater, and a 25-foot-wide shoreline buffer for $7.8 million. The shoreline strip remained under state control to ensure access for anglers and hikers.

So far, DGS has sold 1,617 of the 2,000 parcels, ranging in size from about 200 square feet to about 5 acres. The parcels are being sold for 39 cents a square foot -- the same amount the state paid. So far, sales have totaled $5.33 million.

Buyers agreed to conservation easements that prohibit construction of permanent structures on the properties.

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