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Washington County OKs land purchase for bypass project

The land is a portion of a larger land parcel owned by Pamela and Paul N. Crampton Jr. on the western edge of Funkstown

April 09, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

Washington County officials took another step toward beginning a Funkstown bypass roadway project Tuesday, approving an agreement to purchase a 4.53-acre piece of land off East Oak Ridge Drive for $135,690.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to buy a portion of the larger land parcel owned by Pamela and Paul N. Crampton Jr. at 334 E. Oak Ridge Drive on the western edge of Funkstown.

Commissioner John F. Barr, who is a private business partner of Crampton’s, was absent from the meeting.

Joe Kuhna, the county’s real property administrator, said negotiations for the land, along with several others for the planned bypass to be known as Southern Boulevard, have gone on for “well over a year.”

The roadbed right-of-way is about 2.5 acres, Kuhna said, but Crampton asked the county to also take over an additional 2.03-acre piece of land in the purchase because the land would be isolated from the rest of his previously 43-acre property.

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The purchase also includes several temporary and perpetual easements for construction and drainage, Kuhna said.

Kuhna said the additional two acres could provide a buffer area for planting trees in accordance with the county’s reforestation requirements with the overall project.

County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said the cost of the acquisition, which he noted was at fair market value of about $30,000 per acre, was budgeted in the county’s Capital Improvement Program.

The first stage of the project will connect East Oak Ridge Drive to an area known as Funkstown Hill on Frederick Street.

Kuhna said all or parts of three more properties still need to be purchased for the first phase of construction of the bypass to begin — a portion of a 20-acre farm to the southwest, another small piece of Ravenwood Lutheran Village to the north and another parcel to the east closer to Frederick Street.

“Right now, the only thing that we’ve tried to take is the amount that we need for roadbed easements, et cetera, to get through that property,” Murray said of the adjacent farmland.

“There’s other options for that we could discuss, which are much more expensive,” he added, referring to purchasing the entire 20 acres outright and then marketing the remaining portion for resale later.

Several more temporary construction easements along Frederick Street still need to be secured, Murray said. He said funding for the first phase of construction is budgeted for fiscal year 2013-14, which begins July 1.

The county has more than $5.6 million available to move forward with construction of phase one if ground were to be broken immediately, a county official said this past August.

The bypass, which ultimately would connect to South Edgewood Drive off Dual Highway, long has been discussed as a remedy for traffic backups in Funkstown, a frequent occurrence on weekdays.

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