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PenMar asks commissioners to oppose dissolution of board

March 03, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The PenMar Development Corp. has asked the Washington County Commissioners and the local Chamber of Commerce to oppose proposed state legislation that would dissolve the PenMar board of directors.

So far, the state-created agency charged with redeveloping the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base has no takers.

The County Commissioners didn't take an official position after being asked Tuesday by PenMar officials, nor did they state the reasons for their inaction.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said it's not unusual for the commissioners to refrain from taking positions on state-initiated legislation.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, which voted Monday to ask the local delegation to withdraw the bill, later decided to reconsider that vote.

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Chamber President Fred Teeter said supporters of the proposed legislation "had been very active on the phones" after the chamber board voted, causing the chamber to take more time to think about its position.

Teeter said the chamber's Government Affairs Committee will discuss the legislation Friday and decide whether to recommend that the chamber board stick with its original vote or support the bill.

The legislation would dissolve the 15-member board and create a nine-member board with some residency restrictions and more oversight by state and county officials.

"We're trying to go back and make sure we're taking a responsible position," Teeter said.

The commissioners appoint the PenMar board, but that would change under the legislation. The commissioners would appoint five members and the state would appoint four members.

PenMar Chairman Ronald Sulchek told the commissioners the legislation is unnecessary, saying the goals of the bill could be accomplished if PenMar changed its bylaws.

"With a stroke of the pen, this bill wipes out the entire board of PenMar," Sulchek said.

Commissioner John C. Munson said he was afraid the legislation would jeopardize potential business deals at the former base.

Munson said the delegation never discussed the bill with the commissioners. He said he was "kind of shocked" by most of the provisions in the legislation.

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