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Debate renewed about PenMar board seats

May 11, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

There's talk once again of reducing the number of seats on the PenMar Development Corp.'s board of directors, but this time, the board is leading the discussions.

Board Chairman Ron Sulchek said Monday that the PenMar board, which has 15 seats but is short five members, may be better off with 11 members.

"I think there seems to be the consensus that we really don't want any more than 11 members," Sulchek said.

The board is operating with 10 members who are committed to attending meetings and carrying out PenMar business, Sulchek said.

PenMar Executive Director Rich Rook disagreed with Sulchek, saying he did not think the board reached a consensus to change its size.

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The Washington County Commissioners appoint the PenMar board.

Rook said a PenMar nominating committee will review applications and probably will recommend to the commissioners enough people to fill 15 seats on the board.

PenMar was created by the state in 1997 to redevelop the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base, which the Army shut down in 1998.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers proposed reducing the size of the board from 15 to nine and replacing the current members with a mixture of state- and county-appointed members.

After protests by the PenMar board and community members, the proposal was changed to allow the current members to serve out their terms, and the state would appoint five vacancies. The bill was rejected by the House Economic Matters Committee.

Assistant County Attorney John Martirano said it would again be up to state lawmakers to reduce the size of the PenMar board because the state created the 15-member board. PenMar would have to wait until the 2005 Maryland General Assembly session for the state to consider such a change, he said.

Rook said board members can't serve more than eight consecutive years.

He said board members Peggy Bushey, Mike Zampelli and Bill Mahr are up for reappointment at the end of June. Board member Steve Hull's term also expires then, but he is not eligible for reappointment because he will have served the maximum time allowed, Rook said.

County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell, a board member, said the commissioners likely will appoint candidates to the PenMar board by July 1.

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