Rich residence planned on Priest Point
Attempts to preserve 17 undeveloped acres on the Severn River fail, making way for proposed construction of a mansion.
By Childs Walker and Phillip McGowan
A Pennsylvania man plans to build one of the largest homes in Anne Arundel County at Priest Point, a lushly wooded 17-acre tract at the juncture of Weems Creek and the Severn River.
Scott W. Peterson, a 36-year-old developer from Philadelphia, purchased the land for $824,000 in September from the Redemptorists Mission of the Baltimore Province, a Roman Catholic order that used the property as a recreation spot for more than 70 years.
According to county records, he plans to build a mansion that, at 13,800 square feet, would be larger than historical landmarks such as Mount Vernon, a mere 9,000 square feet, and Monticello, about 11,000 square feet.
The plans have drawn objections from neighbors and environmental activists, who say the land outside Annapolis should remain undeveloped. They said they had tried to purchase it in an effort to block Peterson.
"It's the last 18 acres of undeveloped land on the Severn," said Frederick J. Kelly, an Annapolis attorney and director of the nonprofit Chesapeake Rivers Association. "This is one parcel we had the perfect opportunity to protect ... and instead it's becoming just another wealthy guy's house on the river."
Peterson, who maintained an address in Baltimore until recently, could not be reached for comment. Annapolis attorney Harry Blumenthal, who has represented Peterson, said he had not spoken with his client for two months and was unsure about Peterson's intentions for the property.
"This is one of those situations where the environmental groups want to preserve a piece of land but don't figure out a way to do it before someone buys it to put a house on it," Blumenthal said.
Though Peterson's planned house would be big, it would not look out of place along the Severn, said Charlie "Mr. Waterfront" Buckley, an Annapolis real estate agent who specializes in expensive coastal properties.
"You kind of nod your head sagely and say, `It's a big house, but it's not something I've never seen,'" Buckley said, adding that the county recently issued a building permit for a 23,000- square-foot house on the South River.
Buckley said high-end buyers are increasingly looking at the Annapolis-area waterfront as a place to build large custom homes. He said the value of such homes is unclear because they represent a new phenomenon in the county. But he said he wasn't surprised to hear of Peterson's plans for Priest Point.
(Revised April 2010)