Learn About The Issue

Recently, the Chestnut Ridge Country Club folded and a developer bought the mortgage and took title to the land.  The developer potentially can place up to 100 homes on this land and destroy the environmental buffer that protects the last trout stream in the Jones Falls Watershed and its surrounding wooded valley that protects a unique watershed and ecosystem.  Intense development of this land means up to another 200 vehicles crowding falls road, creating traffic gridlock at its failing intersections and placing additional financial stress on the county budget.  Intense development will generate up to 100 new wells, putting your own wells at risk.  The bulldozing of this land for another 100 houses will destroy the rural nature of our community and your property values!

The County Council is presently considering the down-zoning of the 232 acres from RC-5  (rural residential) to RC-7 (resource  preservation) as part of the comprehensive zoning map process that takes place every four years.  In December 2011, Councilperson Vicki Almond, your Council member in the Second District, introduced Comprehensive Zoning Map process issue #2-031 to address the appropriateness of the existing RC-5 zoning in light of the sale of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club.   According to the County Code, the purpose and intent of RC-7 is resource preservation, more specifically to protect and preserve valuable cultural, historical, recreational and environmental resources through a low-density rural zone.

Prior to 1947, the Chestnut Ridge tract was a dairy farm, when the land was sold to what would become the Chestnut Ridge Country Club.  Through the years, the Club assured members of the community that it was unnecessary to down-zone its land as it intended to continue to operate as a county club and golf course and that it would not sell the land for development.  The Club took out a loan for approximately $6.5 million and gave a mortgage to what was ultimately Wells Fargo.  Among other things, the Club used the funds to build a new club house.  However, the economy tanked, and the Club lost members and became over-extended financially.   In 2011, the Club was in default on its mortgage, and the developer purchased the distressed note from Wells Fargo in December 2011.  The developer’s principal personally advised the Board members of the Club that he was going to continue to operate the golf course.  In addition to purchasing the Wells Fargo note, the developer paid off the Club’s accounts receivable and purchased the assets of the Club for $500,000.  Shortly after the developer purchased the note and paid the $500,000, the developer took possession of the Club and removed all of its maintenance and grounds-keeping equipment from the Club and let most of the employees go except for two who remained to assist in winding up its affairs.  The Club closed as a golf course.  There were no known plans for replacing the equipment or reopening the Club.  The developer is not maintaining the greens or even cutting the grass.

In December 2011, Councilperson Vicki Almond introduced Comprehensive Zoning Map Process Issue #2-031 to address the appropriateness of the existing RC-5 zoning in light of the sale of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club.  According to County Code Section 1A08. R.C.7 (Resource Preservation) Zone, the purpose and intent of RC-7 is resource preservation, more specifically to protect and preserve valuable cultural, historical, recreational and environmental resources through a low density rural zone.   During the past approximately 55 years, the Chestnut Ridge tract has served as a recreational and environmental resource which has, in turn, protected environmental resources, the Dipping Pond Run stream valley, a unique portion of the Jones Falls Watershed and ecosystem.  The density development as presently permitted under RC-5 (rural residential) or perhaps RC-6 (rural conservation and residential) represents a threat to the Dipping Pond Run watershed.  Under RC-5, up to 100 houses might be built on the 232-acre tract.  This number of houses would compound already congested roadways and failing intersections at Seminary Avenue and Greenspring Station and destroy the quality of life in the community as we know it, as well as destroy property values and place additional financial stress on the County budget.  While there are some County and other regulations that might ameliorate the impact of the intensity of potential development of this magnitude, only designation as an RC-7 zone would assure the lowest developmental impact on the Dipping Pond Run watershed.  In addition to protecting the environmental buffer, the rezoning of RC-7 would effectively restrict development to approximately one house for every 25 acres.  The protection of these resources cannot be left to developers whose interests are to maximize profits.

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