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Howard County sets aside 100 acres in Elkridge for recreation, taking school site off the table

A site in Elkridge that was once under consideration for a new high school has been placed under a covenant that prohibits non-recreational use on the land.

County Executive Allan Kittleman last week agreed to preserve Rockburn Park “as was intended when the park was acquired in the 1960s,” he said in a statement. The 100-acre space can only be used for trails, restrooms and parking areas.

“Thousands of students in our biodiversity programs have documented more than 300 species in the area,” Meg Boyd, executive director of the Howard County Conservancy, a nonprofit that promotes preservation, said in a statement. “These covenants will not only protect forest, streams and wildlife habitats, but also ensure that our children can learn and connect with nature in this park for generations to come.”

The decision is a win for the 4,000 signers of a petition that requested Howard to not consider Rockburn as a spot for the high school.

“This is a great victory for the Elkridge community,” said Nikki Marlatt-Young, a co-author of the petition.

The land was determined to be inefficient for development because it contained Native American archeological sites, wetlands and steep slopes.

Kittleman in March assembled a task force to find a location for an Elkridge high school. Troy Park is among the places being considered, according to the county website. Their report is expected in the spring.

Councilman Jon Weinstein, who represents Elkridge and Hanover, and Councilman Calvin Ball, who represents Oakland Mills and Columbia, last year requested consideration of building a school in the spot now under the covenant.

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