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Here is the letter sent to the Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club and below is additional information:

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Additional Information

  • The Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club is a volunteer organization founded in 1995 with the goal of developing and maintaining a Farm Museum in Howard County.  The Club has 214 members, 119 life members, and is comprised of people from all over the World, but mostly Howard County citizens.  Clink here to learn more about the Club.

  • All maintenance, educational events sponsored by the Museum, and Safety related activities are conducted by Club Volunteer staff, except when contractors have been hired by the Club to complete work outside the ability of the volunteer organization.

  • The Club was granted a lease to West Friendship Park in 2005 by Howard County.  Prior to the Club leasing the land, the Hebb House was used for administrative offices and the land was used to plant trees by school programs to off-set environmental impacts of other projects within the county.  Much of the land was filled with illegally dumped trash and the existing buildings were dilapidated.  See the photos below documenting what the grounds looked like prior to the Club lease.

  • The Museum / Club has been awarded three state bond grants, several trail grants, and several miscellaneous grants for the sole purpose of building and maintaining the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum.  Howard County has not provided any grants or assisted in the application of any grants to the Club or Museum.

  • In the early days of the lease, the Club was fined one time for cleaning up a hedge row that was full of small trees, vines, trash, tires, and rusted farm equipment.  The area of the hedge row is now used for equipment displays.  The Club did pay the fine and learned that nothing could be done on the land without prior approval.  Howard County Recreation and Parks relaxed that stance after the first five years of the lease and permitted removal of any vegetation less than 4 inches in width without specific approval.  Nothing was done on the Museum grounds without Recreation and Park’s approval.

  • The Club / Museum has not received any other citations or warnings for safety, environmental, or any other reasons.

  • The Club rented the property to organizations to hold events and festivals to generate revenue to run the Museum.  Many times, the events or festivals created situations that were not beneficial to the Museum grounds (damage to the grounds, excessive trash left behind) and the events or festivals were not rented to again.

  • For 16 years the Club was viewed by Howard County as the stewards of West Friendship Park and maintained areas outside the lease property, including trail maintenance, tree maintenance, mowing of grass, and snow removal.

  • In May 2023, The Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum was given an Honorary Resolution for National Historic Preservation month by the Howard County Council for “their dedication to historic preservation in Howard County”.  See photo of certificate at the bottom of the page.

  • In May 2023, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball gave the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum a Certificate of Recognition "to celebrate the success of historic preservation efforts", in which it states "Nothing is more valuable than giving our history new life, new purpose and a new place in our hearts and minds.  I commend our hard-working and valuable community advocates for their leadership and partnership to help build the bridge between past and future." See photo of certificate at the bottom of the page.

  • Once the Museum has vacated the Park, the County will have 6 existing buildings (existing pre-lease) that were renovated from dilapidation (see photos below) and six building constructed during the life of the lease. These buildings will be used by the County without any cost to them for construction or maintenance thus far.

  • None of these buildings have construction/use and occupancy permits, except for the Main Display Building, which has all permitting as required.  The existing pre-lease buildings were included in the lease as existing buildings and were renovated (including inspections by the County). The buildings constructed during the life of the lease were inspected by the County and the Museum/Club was told by the County that the buildings did not require permits since they were agricultural buildings.  Not until recently did Rec and Parks state verbally that all buildings, including the pre-lease buildings required use and occupancy permits.  Use and occupancy permits cannot be given to the pre-lease buildings without information from the County on the original construction details. The County has not granted use and occupancy permits for the buildings constructed during the life of the lease, now stating that all buildings must be re-inspected for safety. 

  • The Club / Museum was not aware that the letter from the County was coming, and did not / has not reached out to any of the County Council members about this situation.  We welcome the County Council members to reach out to the Club if they feel this is an important issue.  We have asked the community to reach out in an effort to show the County Council and Administration what the Museum means to the community.

  • The Museum has had regular Fire Marshal and Environmental Inspector visits with no citations or warnings throughout the life of the Museum.

Then - Tenant House 

Then - Two Bay Garage 

Then - Dairy Barn 

Then - Tenant House

Now - One Room Schoolhouse

Now - Two Bay Garage 

Now - Dairy Barn 

Now - House Before Electricity

Howard County and West Friendship Park

  • Howard County used Program Open Space grants through the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources to purchase the Hebb Farm in the early 1970s and the Harless Farm in the early 1980s.

  • Land acquired by Local and State Governments through the Program Open Space grant process “may not be used for any purpose other than public recreation or public open space and will be restricted to such uses by covenants in the deed to the property.”

  • Land acquired by Local and State Governments through the Program Open Space grant process CAN be converted to other uses if:

    • “another public need takes priority over a planned recreation or open space use, and a conversion is determined by the local government to be the only alternative.”

    • “All conversions of State-funded parks and open space must demonstrate a net positive benefit to the public. The applicant should demonstrate that the site or the jurisdiction's open space resources will significantly benefit from the proposed conversion.”

    • Land must be substituted for the land that is being converted out of Program Open Space, must be of higher value than the converted land, but can be several small parcels to make up the total acreage.

    •, page 66 and 67

  • The Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club and the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum have not received any grants through the Program Open Space grant process.

  • West Friendship Park IS NOT currently and has never been in Agricultural Preservation.

  • See Rural Land Preservation Map of Howard County from January 2023 for classifications of the land.

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If you would like to help the fight to preserve the heritage of Howard County, please Click Here to proceed to our Donations page and donate to our legal fund.  We have already spent millions of dollars to create and maintain the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum and we are prepared to spend millions more to fight to keep it alive, but we can only do it with your help!

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