Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Doughoregan Manor

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, January 26, 2006


Perhaps you saw the Baltimore Sun Opinion piece about this historic property. Honestly, I didn’t. A reader brought it to my attention and I think it is worth bringing to your attention too.

Doughoregan’s fate
This is apparently a fine piece of investigative work on the part of Howard County Sun reporter Larry Carson.

This is a story 300 years in the making… I quote the first paragraph.

Doughoregan Manor – the more than 1,400-acre, roughly 300-year-old estate in the middle of Howard County – is among the nation’s most significant private properties. Questions about its future are now in the air. These can only be satisfactorily resolved with funds and creativity from county, state and federal officials – and public-spirited generosity by the manor’s owners, direct descendents of Charles Carroll III of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, whose grandfather founded the estate and who is buried in a chapel there.

Now my initial opinion is I am all for property owners rights. My reader seems to have no argument about property rights either, but brings up some very valid points.

I am respecting the anonymity of the reader, but here (with permission) is what the reader shared with me.

The property owners approached the County because they wanted more than what is currently allowed to them under law. They wanted part of the property zoned differently, they wanted an extension of the planned service area and they wanted 24$ million in Ag pres money. Under the existing zoning they can develop roughly the same number of houses and preserve the same amount of open space- but not get the $24 million. Additionally- the more intense multi family zoning of the PSA extension would generate more dollars for development than the current well/septic set up. The current zoning-however- would likely scatter the open space- rather than consolidate it and may threaten the historic setting or resources. Current zoning would require them to cluster the homes 1 unit per 4.25 acres… on one acre lots and set aside the rest in open space. Current law also allows reservation of land by a public entity for public use- if that public use is clearly outlined in the General Plan or Capital budget. Both parkland and school sites are goals of the general plan (and at this geographic location) and both have line items in the capital budgets…So…”under current law”… they (the Carrolls) can’t pretty much do what they want… but they can do a lot. So the questions are: If we expend millions and millions in public dollars do we have a right to public access? Is it better- fiscally- to buy land for parks and school sites and stop the development that will cost more money in infrastructure… or not reserve/pay for the land for public use- allow it to be developed- but bear the associated costs of providing adequate facilities? Do we really want to fulfill our goals for Agricultural land, park land and school sites… or are we just talking the talk because those costs are dramatically more than anyone ever envisioned? Should we ever extend our PSA? Under what circumstances? Is the 40K per acre price offered to the Carrolls- open for other farm owners- or just this farm? Can the owners make the same money by transferring their development rights to someone who wants them- say Town Center? Perhaps these answers will be forthcoming at tomorrow’s meeting.

Very well said and a very informed reader. I am humbled that I was asked for my opinion, and even more humbled by my pathetic answer to the initial question.

This is not an issue that will be settled soon. It probably will be settled by the next administration and County Council. So, future Council Members and County Executives. Where do you stand on this issue? And what a question to ask, because this one issue is loaded full of implications!

For more in depth background on this historical property click HERE

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2 Responses to “Doughoregan Manor”

  1. Great site and interesting commentary

  2. Steve Bartley said

    Back in the 60s my sister took me to see the property. At that time one could drive to the front of the poperty, though it was known that the owners were not fond of sightseeers. Even as a kid I was impressed.
    My feeling on the fate of the property is that in a few years there will be little left of the property or the grand setting. Howard county has a habit of consuming all of its history, turning it into asphault or houses.

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