DeVoe Falling Branch Buffer

In 1997, the HLT acquired 22 acres of buffer land around Kilgore Falls.

Trust Protects Kilgore Falls

On June 16, 1997 the Harford Land Trust purchased the entire 62-acre property of the Estate of Rebecca El DeVoe adjacent to the Kilgore Falls portion of Rocks State Park. Bordered by Clermont Mill Road on the east and Falling Branch Road on the south, the late Rebecca DeVoe’s farmstead had been the only unprotected land adjacent to the land containing Maryland’s second-highest waterfall.

The late Miss DeVoe’s property included her house, a barn, and several small sheds located in the center of the property. It consists mostly of former pasture and hayfields on rolling land now in old field succession, with steep slopes to the north rising to a wooded plateau of twelve acres beyond BGE’s transmission line.

Although the Trust never met Rebecca DeVoe, who died in May, 1995 after living her all 78 years on that property, the Trust worked on this sale for two years. The Estate granted the Trust a right of first refusal for the whole property and over an eighteen month period considered several offers, including proposals from those who would have developed it. In October, 1996, the Estate had agreed to the Trust’s offer to purchase only the twenty-two acres from the Estate contingent upon finding a buyer of the remaining forty acres who would agree to such a division of the land. By February, 1997 the Estate, however, had found that no qualified buyer was willing to let the Trust buy twenty-two acres. The Harford Land Trust did not wish to own the remaining 40 acres permanently, nor did it relish the risk of owning the buildings and forty acres for any length of time while finding a second buyer. The DeVoe property, however, was too valuable for protecting Kilgore Falls and HLT’s Directors decided to take the risk anyway.

HLT’s immediate purchase of the entire property was made possible by The Abell Foundation’s one year, interest free loan of $235,000. This was Abell’s third interest- free loan to HLT; they also supported the Forest Greens Lake Preserve in 1992 and the Stifler property next to Palmer State Park in 1994. The Abell Foundation had no desire to own real property in Harford County, so the Trust had to assure Abell that it would repay this loan within one year.

The Directors need not have worried too much, because a second buyer soon appeared. While the Trust was waiting for the State to approve and execute its contract, Edward L. Garono of Kay Deitz Real Estate, Inc., Bel Air found a private buyer to purchase the remaining acreage and all the improvements for $175,000. On March 26, 1997, Mr. & Mrs. Harry M. Schreck of Perry Hall signed a contract with the Trust for the 40 acre tract.

On June 18, 1997 the Maryland Board of Public Works approved the state’s contract to buy the twenty-two acre portion for $81,600 and on September 11, 1997 HLT received payment for this land.

Michael E. Leaf of Leaf & Mahoney, RA. handled this transaction for the Trust. Federated Environmental Associates, Inc., Baltimore, prepared the Phase One Environmental Assessment for the Trust. The Page Appraisal Co. and Everett, Benfield Associates, LLC each prepared an independent appraisal for the Trust. Highland Survey Associates, Inc. prepared a field survey of the portion conveyed to Program Open Space, and T.R. Stark prepared the field survey of the portion which the Schreck family bought. Although the original deed indicated Rebecca DeVoe’s property had 67.21 acres, the two surveys agreed that there were actually 61.784 acres.

The property had seven development rights, one of which went with the twenty-two acres to Program Open Space. The private buyer got three development rights, including the existing house. The Trust kept the remaining three development rights, for future sale contingent on the Harford County Government establishing a county-wide Transfer of Development Rights program.