Havre de Grace Prepares for Special Election Over Waterfront Property Purchase

From the City of Havre de Grace:


Q: Will my taxes go up if the Ballot Question passes?
Approval of the question will place the full faith and credit of the City behind paying the annual $55,000 payment amount for the next 20 years. The City currently receives approximately $8 million annually in property taxes. The City fully anticipates being able to make the annual payment without having to increase property taxes.

Q: What is the plan for the Water Street Property if the Ballot question passes?
The City is committed to preserving its Chesapeake Bay shoreline for public use. While final details and design is still in-progress, the intent is to preserve the land as parkland, with recreational access to the water as well as playground and gathering amenities. Please note, with the impending Amtrak bridge project, there is a possibility that this land may be used and leased for several years towards the completion of that project.

Q: What happens to the Water Street property if the Ballot question does not pass?
The land currently is owned by the County, who has determined that the property is excess and intends to sell the property. The City has been given effectively an exclusive right of first refusal. In the event the citizens determine it is not in their best interest to exercise that right, the County will likely place the property for sale to the public at large.

Q: Is there a concern for soil contamination?
On 2005 to 2006, Geo-technologies Associates performed a Phase I and Phase II study. The study found the sites were, in fact contaminated with diesel/heating oil, gasoline and pesticides. Due to the collapse of the housing market in 2006, no remediation plan was developed for the properties. At this time, no definitive cost to remediate the site can be developed until a Concept Plan of the proposed use of the Site has been submitted to MDE for Review and approval. It is at this time that MDE will define the remediation measures. If the proposed use is simply to install walkways to connect the Greenway Trail, applying a geo-tech fabric similar to landfills and capping the site may be sufficient.

Q: How will the City pay for the Water Street property if the Ballot question passes?
As with all debt incurred by the City, debt service will be included in the annual budget presented by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. As noted previously, the City fully anticipates being able to include the $55,000 annual payment to its annual budget without having to increase taxes or fees.

Q: What is the current value of the land?
The assessed value for the parcels under consideration is approximately $1,612,567.

Q: What are the expected operational and capital costs should the land be purchased by the City?

Based on the current planned use as parkland, annual operating cost should not exceed $25, 000.

Q: How much property does the City currently own in the City compared to the total City area?
The City owns approximately 130 acres of land. This equates to 2% of the 6,825 acres within City limits. By area, City-owned property is assessed at $24,900,000, or roughly, 1.7% of the $1,431,200,000 total assessed value of all properties within the City.



Notice of Special City Election – A Special Havre de Grace City election will be held at the Havre de Grace City Council Chambers, located at 711 Pennington Avenue, Havre de Grace, Maryland. A Special Election to give the registered voters of the City of Havre de Grace an opportunity to cast their ballot in favor of or opposed to the following question:

Question A. The Mayor and City Council of Havre de Grace propose to purchase the real property known as 627 Water Street and a portion of 649 Water Street in Havre de Grace, Maryland, which is comprised of four lots along Water Street and the Susquehanna River (parcels 460, 461, 472 and 470 as shown on tax map 601). The purchase price is One Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,500,000.00). The current assessed value for the property is One Million Six Hundred Twelve Thousand Five Hundred Sixty Seven Dollars ($1,612,567.00). A deposit of Four Hundred Thousand Dollars ($400,000.00) was paid by the City to Harford County with the remaining One Million One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,100,000.00) to be paid by the City over a period of twenty (20) years with interest at 0.00% pursuant to an installment purchase agreement upon the full faith and credit and unlimited taxing powers of the City, thus, there will be twenty (20) annual payments of Fifty-Five Thousand Dollars ($55,000.00). The Mayor and City Council intend to transform the property into a City waterfront park. Do you agree to the City’s purchase of this property and approve the indebtedness on these terms?


Election will be held on Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Polls will open at 7 AM
Polls will close at 8 PM

Method of Voting: Voting shall be by written ballot to be completed by the voter, placed by the voter in a sealed envelope, and placed in a ballot box. The City Board of Election Supervisors shall be the canvassing authority for the election results.

Qualification of Voters – All citizens of the United States eighteen years of age or upward who have resided in the City for twenty-one days preceding the Special Election and whose names shall appear upon the list of registered voters of the City shall be entitled to vote at any election held under the provisions of the Charter.

Absentee Ballot applications will be available for pick-up at City Hall. Voted ballots must be returned by 5:00 PM on election day to Havre de Grace City Hall, 711 Pennington Avenue, Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078.


  1. Money doesnt grow on trees. says

    Very sneaky and underhanded dealings here. Holding an election between Christmas and New Years when people are visiting family out of town. The city is going to go broke and have to raise taxes the way they are spending it on these pet projects. They have to pay $90k a year for the overpriced property next to the lighthouse and this property will cost $55k a year for the next twenty five years. $145,000.00 tied up for the next 25 years. Equals about eight cents in tax increases. They made a claim that the railroad will rent the property when they build the bridge. Problem is it’s the property thats not on the ballot that will be used for the bridge construction yard.

    • Hank from Havre DeGrace says

      Yeah this is an accident waiting to happen. The city wants to buy what is currently contaminated waste land from the county for 1.5 MILLION! You have to be clinically insane to vote yes to this and the politicians in this city are insane to bring it to the table. But like everything else the moron voters either won’t show up in opposition or will vote yes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Good luck!

  2. Concerned HDG Voter says

    This really appears to be a no brainer. Vote NO!! The county then sells the land to someone else who in turn is forced to clean it if they wish to use it or it stays vacant. Nonetheless no ridiculous expense is left for the citizens of Havre de Grace to burden over the next two decades. Show up on the 27th and have your voice heard and vote no.

  3. Havre de Grace Voter says

    This is a no brainer VOTE NO! If the county decides to sell the land let them sell it and whomever wishes to buy it can pay to clean it or it stays vacant. Nonetheless the citizens of Havre de Grace aren’t forced to pay this undue burden for the next two decades. Come out on the 27th and let the city know this should be a firm no.

  4. Sam Adams says

    The back door deal was always that the city was supposed to buy this property. When the Bulle Rock developers needed to be bailed out, the county under Craig bought it with the intention of flipping off to HdG. The city couldn’t buy it at the time the developers needed their money since they had just bought the councilman’s house next to the lighthouse for $1.5 million. The residents of Bulle Rock pay the city $1.5 million a year in property taxes in exchange for zero services. It’s amazing how everything in HdG costs $1.5 million now.

  5. Alvar says

    The City should buy it and build a hotel. Just ask Baltimore City how wonderful their money pit of a hotel has been….. Voters need to run away from this as fast as possible. Purchasing land is only the first step. Then comes development, insurance, and maintenance. The cost will easily exceed the City’s estimates by 200 percent.

    Vote no !!!


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