Chestnut Ridge Golf Course turns into luxury housing tract, upsetting Valley Planning Council

Posted at 10:57 AM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 18:28:38-04

The battle began just months after the Chestnut Ridge Golf Course in Lutherville closed in 2011 due to money problems.

Developer Cignal Corp. bought the property, with ideas to turn it into a luxury housing tract.

"We've always known that it's a beautiful piece of property and the best location in Baltimore... Golf courses lay out very well. You've got water, mature trees and a lot of open space," C.J. Ilardo, a Cignal principal, said.

Neighbors and the Valley Planning Council piped up with serious concerns, worried about traffic and preserving the open space.

Listening to these fears, Councilwoman Vicki Almond and the Baltimore County Council decided to down zone the property after Cignal bought it, thus allowing only 9 homes to be built instead of the planned 115.

Cignal filed a lawsuit saying the 2012 decision greatly decreased the value of the property.

Then, Almond offered a compromise, allowing Cignal to build 40 homes.

"We met with the County Council, and a lot of the neighbors, and came to an agreement and I think everybody's happy," Ilardo said.

Peter Fenwick, with the Valley Planning Council, is not happy. 

"Coming back to the word process, here we are in the next zoning cycle, and there was never an indication that we were aware of to unwind the zoning that has happened, and that everyone was content that was the right zoning until there wasn't really any inclusion in a process, that I'm aware of, or that anybody is aware of until the last hours," Fenwick said he felt left out of the process and found out the day before the new zoning declaration was signed.

Ilardo said the lots are only for sale to personal builders, intended for completely customized luxury homes. The lots are four to five acres a piece.

"It's great because these are very large lots for the area, if you look around us, most of the lots are about an acre to an acre and a half on average, so we're more than double that," Ilardo said.

Fenwick volleyed back saying the area has a failed traffic rating and adding any new homes will have a negative impact.

Fenwick said they don't know what they can do now that the lots are up for sale, but are having professionals review the declaration to provide them with advice.

ABC 2 News reached out to Councilwoman Vicki Almond and her staff replied in an email saying she was unavailable for a comment.

The development is called Castanea. Eight lots are currently listed and the other 32 will be listed in the next year starting in the $800,000s.