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Delegation hears public comments on PenMar, DNR

January 11, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

The PenMar Development Corp., funding for the Department of Natural Resources and the state budget were among topics discussed Saturday morning at a public forum held by state lawmakers.

The forum at South Hagers-town High School's auditorium was dominated by discussion about a state initiative affecting correctional officers, but other issues were raised.

Jim Lemon, a member of the Cascade Committee's steering committee, said members do not want the PenMar Development Corp., charged with redeveloping the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base, abolished.

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Lemon said PenMar has had problems, but its current board members have improved the group's relationship with the Cascade community.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, chairman of the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly, has called the volunteer PenMar board "dysfunctional" and has said local lawmakers will consider making changes to the board's structure through state law.

PenMar was created by the state in 1997 to redevelop the base, which the Army shut down in 1998.

Lemon said the Cascade group wants PenMar to be subject to the public meetings act.

The Washington County Commissioners should have the authority to remove a member from the PenMar Development Corp., but only for just cause such as a criminal or ethical violation, Lemon said.

Lemon said a county commissioner and a member of the Maryland General Assembly should sit on the PenMar board.

Tom Grosh, of Clear Spring, spoke about several Maryland Department of Natural Resources issues.

Among them was the need for the state to regulate deer processors as a precaution to prevent a chronic disease now out West from affecting the local deer population, Grosh said.

Grosh said he wants the state to use conservation stamps to fund more Department of Natural Resources Police.

Robert Darby said railroad crossings in Washington County need to be improved.

Darby also wants term limits for federal, state and local elected officials.

Ron Rowe had concerns about a new $300 fee for limited liability corporations and small corporations in Maryland.

The fee, alone, is not a lot, but many landlords have each of their properties in the name of a different limited liability corporation so the fees can pile up, Rowe said.

George Michael wanted confirmation that the state of Maryland has to operate under a balanced budget and asked what the deficit is.

Shank, R-Washington, said the projected deficit for the current fiscal year is approximately $770 million.

There is a requirement for the state budget to be balanced and that is done by making changes to the budget, he said.

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