Community Park

After eight years and an impossible number of lengthy appeals, our opposition is down to their final out. The appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals has been submitted by the Freeland Legacy Alliance.

The state's highest court hears only a small number of cases brought before it and a decision on whether this case is of significant importance to be reviewed once again will be determined within the next few months, hopefully by the end of 2011. If they decline to hear it, it's all over.

The Hereford Zone Rec. Council, the developer who intends to donate the land, and Baltimore County have won without question in every appeal to date.

What our opposition has succeeded in doing is to delay this project by eight years now and deprive our kids of a safe and spacious place to play. We spend about $20,000 per year renting space so that our teams can have a reasonable number of practices and games. No other rec. council in the County has to contend with this expense.

We look forward to the Court's decision.

Contact

Chair person: Eric van den Beemt
Email the chair person
Telephone: 410-472-9043

Background

For the last eight years, the Hereford Zone Recreation Council (and before that, the Hereford Recreation Council) has tried to convince Baltimore County to buy land and build a regional park in the Hereford Zone. Given our less-densely populated area, we were not included in former County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger's County Park Initiative, in which six large regional parks were funded and built in other areas of the County. Under Jim Smith’s administration an attempt was made to purchase land in the Maryland Line area but the cost escalated beyond their resources and no alternative property at a reasonable cost has been located.

It is for this reason that we have initiated a private effort to begin the development of our own park. It is our intention to fund the initial phase with funds raised privately from the community, and then donate the improved property to Baltimore County Recreation and Parks for completion. This will move the project along more quickly than if we were to give the unimproved land directly to the County.

Progress to Date

A six-year search for land in the Hereford Zone turned up little suitable land. We have contacted Baltimore County and the State of Maryland regarding land inventory, analyzed available space at our schools, tried to acquire access to the Parkton Landfill, spoken with farmers who we thought might be willing to sell land, worked with realtors, and spoken with the Catholic Church about land they own. None of these efforts has been fruitful.

Finally, in the spring of 2004, we worked with Randy Shelley on a plan to have part of a Middletown Rd. property donated to the Rec. Council.

The preliminary plan was discussed with the community through meetings with various community organizations over several months.

The Freeland Community Association voted on September 13, 2005 to oppose the entire project. While they do not appear to have any grounds for opposition to the County (we are not asking for anything that is not allowed under current zoning regulations) their opposition centers primarily on the grounds that "We don't want it" and "It doesn't belong in this area".

On September 26, 2005, we participated in the Community Input Meeting at Prettyboy Elementary. This was an opportunity for those either in favor or opposed to the project to ask questions of the developer or of HZRPC.

On October 26, 2005, at the monthly meeting of HZRPC in the HHS auditorium, approximately 400 supporters listened as program leaders spoke about the challenges they face in trying to operate their program with limited indoor and outdoor facilities. Councilman McIntire and other County officials heard from leaders representing thousands of kids about these needs. We thank everyone who attended for bringing this clear message to County personnel.

The Freeland Community Association petitioned the Zoning Office of Baltmore County to review our plan and rule on whether our proposal would be allowed on the property on Middletown Road. A hearing was held on May 17, 2006 to listen to their argument. On July 10, 2006 the Deputy Zoning Commissioner ruled that our plan is "allowed by right" on the property.

In May of 2007 a compromise agreement was reached with the Freeland Community Association, Randy Shelley, and the Hereford Zone Recreation and Parks Council. The revised plan is significantly smaller and does not include an Indoor Arena. This plan was presented to Baltimore County officials and others at a Development Plan Conference, then one final day of the Hearing Officer's Hearing on Sept. 27th, 2007. Ther Freeland Community Association then dropped their opposition.

Several members of the Freeland Community Association then formed the Freeland Legacy Alliance to continue to fight the proposed park for our kids. They have appealed to every court up to the Special Court of Appeals in Annapolis, each time being rebuffed in unequivocal decisions by the courts.

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