County government purchases 4 acres of land in Lansdowne to preserve as open space

Baltimore County has purchased 4 acres of land in Lansdowne that will be preserved as open space.

The plot of land, located at 630 Washington Ave., near the intersection of Hollins Ferry Road and Hammonds Ferry Road, was targeted last year for development into a community of town houses by the seller of the property. Tax records list the previous owner as Charles H. Gehringer, with an Essex mailing address.

Instead, the land was purchased by the county for $415,000, and that money will be reimbursed from the county’s Program Open Space fund.

County Executive Don Mohler and District 1 Councilman Tom Quirk announced the purchase on Friday. Mohler said the county was not opposed to development, but that it had to be “good” and “enlightened.”

“[I]t becomes so important when we can protect these pockets of land,” Mohler said.

Baltimore County’s allocation for Program Open Space in FY2019 was $7.3 million, according to Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for the county. Funding for Program Open Space comes from the real estate transfer tax, which was established by Maryland in 1969.

In addition to securing small and mid-size plots of land like the one in Lansdowne, Kobler said in an email, the county has put more than 65,564 acres of land under preservation easements.

Area residents and community leaders spoke in favor of preserving the space, and said they were glad it would not be further developed.

“I’m glad it’s going to stay green space because they’ve developed so much around Riverview and Lansdowne, there’s just not much green space anymore,” said Ernie Bailey, president of the Lansdowne Improvement Association.

Ron Whitehead, president of the Riverview Community Association, said developing the land would have been a safety issue, because just one road would have led in and out of the community.

That would have made it difficult for emergency service vehicles to access the proposed town homes, Whitehead said. He credited the community’s activism and “showing up” with halting the development of the land.

“If the cause is right, [the community] is there,” Whitehead said.

Quirk said he and his office worked with the county executive’s office to preserve the open space after hearing from “dozens and dozens” of community members who were opposed to the development plan.

cboteler@baltsun.com

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