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Million-dollar mistake to end in land swap

July 20, 2009
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Baltimoresun.com: The $1.3 million house near the Loch Raven Reservoir was built with an eye toward details--handcrafted ceilings, a wood-paneled library--but missed a critical one: It sits on land owned not by the homeowner but the City of Baltimore.

By Annie Linskey

Baltimoresun.com: The $1.3 million Baltimore County home is billed in a real estate ad as an "architectural gem" with five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, winter views of Loch Raven Reservoir and "moldings and details beyond anyone's imagination."

But there is a significant hitch: The builder, Todd B. Garliss Sr., constructed the mansion on the wrong piece of land, putting it not on his own plot but on adjacent property owned by Baltimore City.

The city, believing Garliss made an honest mistake, is now poised to enter an unusual land swap with his son, the current owner of the house, to clear up the matter. Under the deal, which was introduced as legislation to the Baltimore City Council on Monday, the city would take ownership of Todd B. Garliss Jr.'s four-acre property and give him the adjacent city-owned three acres on which the home sits.

Garliss will not be allowed to make any additions to the house, which is in Phoenix off Poplar Hill Road and surrounded by land that, like the nearby reservoir, is owned by the city. He also must pay the city $65,000 in rent for having used the city land all these years.

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