Officials discuss Indian Head property options
Opponents say site better used for economic development near Md. Airport, not for preservation
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.”