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Penmar, Army delay deed-signing ceremony

May 20, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A Monday deed-signing ceremony for 236 acres of Fort Ritchie property from the U.S. Army to the PenMar Development Corp. has been canceled because of an ongoing legal battle with a PenMar tenant.

The delay is due to Role Models America filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Maryland.

The decision to delay the ceremony, was made jointly by the Army and PenMar, said PenMar and Army spokesmen.

PenMar Board Chairman Brett Wilson said the delay is disappointing. PenMar officials have said they can better redevelop the land when they have title to it.

"We thought we were on the verge of moving forward and now we have been told we can't," he said.

A May 27 public meeting to discuss issues related to PenMar and Cascade will continue as scheduled at 7 p.m. at PenMar.

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The Army signed an agreement on Aug. 24, 2001, in which it promised to transfer in phases ownership of the 638-acre former Army base to PenMar. The first-phase transfer would involve 236 acres that includes two lakes and property being used by the International Masonry Institute, which runs a stone masonry job training program.

The second and third phases of the transfer probably won't be completed until 2003 and 2004, Wilson said. The transfers of those sections will be held up because they are part of a 250-acre section of the former base being examined for unexploded ordnance.

PenMar was created by the Maryland General Assembly to redevelop the former base for business. Some 2,000 jobs were lost when Fort Ritchie closed in September 1998.

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