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Legislation sought for PenMar group

February 12, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

FORT RITCHIE - The Fort Ritchie Local Redevelopment Authority and the Washington County Commissioners are moving forward on a plan to create the PenMar Development Corp., which would own the fort and oversee development after the Army leaves in 1998.

The Maryland Legislature must pass a bill to create the corporation, which would be modeled after the Maryland Economic Development Corp. Officials are rushing to beat a Feb. 28 deadline for introducing bills this session.

Local Redevelopment Authority Director Robert Sweeney presented the County Commissioners with a rough draft of the bill Tuesday. Sweeney said all of the members of the county delegation would sponsor the bill.

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The new corporation could float revenue-based bonds without liability to the county or the state, Sweeney said. The land at the fort would be used as collateral, he said.

The corporation's goal would be to sell or lease property to developers, companies and others to maximize economic development benefits. Once all property is sold, there would be no need for the corporation. Under the draft bill, the corporation's scope would be limited to Fort Ritchie and neighboring properties.

The corporation's 15-member board of directors would be appointed by the County Commissioners, Sweeney said. The corporation would have to report financial information annually to the county, Sweeney said.

When Commissioner James R. Wade asked what taxes the county would receive, Sweeney said that the moment property is sold or leased, the county will receive property taxes.

Sweeney also said that nonprofit groups that have shown interest in the fort have been told that they would have to pay something in lieu of taxes to the county should they locate on the land.

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