Of­fi­cials dis­cuss In­dian Head prop­erty op­tions

Op­po­nents say site bet­ter used for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment near Md. Air­port, not for preser­va­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

By a 3-2 de­ci­sion, the Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted to re­quest staff look into the pos­si­bil­ity of plac­ing county-owned prop­erty in the In­dian Head Tech­nol­ogy Park in an ease­ment with the Con­ser­vancy for Charles County or Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust.

The 50-acre prop­erty near the Mary­land Air­port came into the county’s hands in 2005 as part of an agree­ment in­volv­ing the preser­va­tion of 2,250 acres of land, Chap­man’s For­est, with the in­tent that the 50 acres would be used for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to a county-state

Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing agreed to at that time.

Com­mis­sioner De­bra Davis (D) said the state and the county had com­mit­ted to des­ig­nat­ing that land for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“To go back on that is un­be­liev­able. It is dis­grace­ful that we would make that deal and then go back on it,” Davis said. “It is not good for west­ern county

that we put this in any sort of con­ser­vancy … I can’t be­lieve we’re hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion.”

Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D) said the county has been un­suc­cess­ful in draw­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to the prop­erty.

“We have been down that road, of try­ing to mar­ket that land that way, un­suc­cess­fully,” Robin­son said.

Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy (D) stressed that the only pur­pose of the mo­tion was to di­rect staff to look into op­tions.

“The pur­pose of to­day’s dis­cus­sion

is not to take a vote on whether we’re putting this land into con­ser­vancy, at all, we don’t know that yet,” Mur­phy said.

Mur­phy said in a phone in­ter­view af­ter­ward that he had been ap­proached by the con­ser­vancy about po­ten­tial in­ter­est in the land.

“We don’t even know at this point if there is in­ter­est,” Mur­phy said.

Mur­phy said the form of the ease­ment would be part of the dis­cus­sion.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all propo­si­tion, you re­ally have to tai­lor

it to the site,” Mur­phy said.

Davis had harsh words for her col­leagues, say­ing they were choos­ing con­ser­vancy over eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and the well-be­ing of the res­i­dents of her district.

“I am ve­he­mently op­posed to it, for more rea­sons than I care to out­line,” Davis said. “The ques­tion should be, are we go­ing to have con­ser­va­tion or eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment there?”

Brian Klaas, pres­i­dent of the Charles County Cham­ber of Com­merce’s Mil­i­tary Al­liance Coun­cil, said the move was an

“act of con­tempt” to­wards the cit­i­zens of west­ern Charles County.

“In­stead of propos­ing a project that could al­le­vi­ate traf­fic on Route 210, such as a telecom­mut­ing com­plex, ‘no growth’ is the only vi­sion from these com­mis­sion­ers,” Klaas said in an email. “In an ef­fort to ap­pease those groups that are com­fort­able with cit­i­zens liv­ing in blighted and boarded com­mu­ni­ties, the ma­jor­ity of our County Com­mis­sion­ers have voted against the eco­nomic in­ter­ests of those most in need.”

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