Baltimore County recently dedicated about 38 forested acres in Perry Hall as conservation areas, County Councilman David Marks announced.
The re-classification protects the areas from virtually all development and comes at no cost to taxpayers, Marks said.
The Seven Oaks Environmental Conservation Area includes 8.2 publicly-owned acres in the 9200 block of Seven Courts Drive, north of the Seven Oaks Senior Center and southwest of Pinedale Drive.
A second area, called the Indian Rock Environmental Conservation Area, will add 29.6 publicly-owned acres to the north and south of Indian Rock Park. The park already includes 16.5 acres of forest area. About 11 acres will be added north of Park, between Ebenezer and East Joppa Roads, and 18.5 acres will be added south of the park along Perry Hall Boulevard.
The addition to the south had previously been intended as an extension of Perry Hall Boulevard.
Marks has long been a proponent of downzoning and open space. Since becoming a councilman, he worked to limit development in 263 acres in Perry Hall, including 72 acres zoned as open space.
Many of the downzoned properties were owned by the county, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and homeowners associations, and were not intended for future development.
"I have worked for the past year with County Executive Kamenetz to have this acreage permanently protected from development, and I applaud the creation of these two conservation areas in Perry Hall," Marks said in a release.
"Not only are we protecting green space in two distinct regions of Perry Hall, but we are preserving an area larger than the acreage at Perry Hall High School. It is a milestone for the Perry Hall community, and it comes at almost no cost to Baltimore County's taxpayers," he added.
Dennis Robinson, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, added his support in the release: "This is a great holiday announcement for the citizens of Perry Hall, and we thank County Executive Kamenetz and County Councilman Marks for their commitment to open space."
Marks joined students at Seven Oaks Elementary School, to celebrate the addition of the Seven Oaks Environmental Conservation Area, adjacent to the school. Principal Carol Wingard said the school plans to take advantage of the open space as they work to be maintain their certification as a Maryland Green School.
Emily Cooke, a parent at Seven Oaks, said the conservations area is "near and dear to the hearts of the Seven Oaks PTA members."
"In the past, this area was used by the science teachers to enhance environmental lessons. I hope to see it used that way again in the future. Mr. Albert Svehla, a former Seven Oaks grandparent and PTA President, worked very hard to help get this land into county hands for this purpose. It's a wonderful experience to see this project begin after all of his efforts! I am also very happy to see that this land will not be developed. With the overcrowding issues at several of the local area schools, further development is the last thing this community needs," Cooke wrote in an email.
See the maps for details on the conservation areas.