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Three PenMar seats open

August 05, 2005

Working on the board of the PenMar Development Corp., the group charged with the redevelopment of the old Fort Ritchie Army base, has to be about as much fun as having a seat on the county's Board of Zoning Appeals.

Almost every applicant who comes before the BZA is someone dissatisfied with the rules as they apply to their property.

Likewise, it seems that PMDC has the almost impossible job of attracting jobs while at the same time pleasing those citizens who want the redeveloped fort to provide a variety of services to the community.

Nevertheless, we encourage citizens who care about the future of the Cascade community and Washington County to apply for one of the three vacant seats on the PMDC board.

There are good people on the board now, but they need help to get across the message that whatever anyone thinks about the contract signed with Corporate Office Properties Trust, it's a done deal.

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Should the property have been appraised before PMDC agreed to sell it? Maybe.

Should the deal have clearly stated that the water system there would remain in the county government's hands? Sure.

But in both of these cases, there's nothing that can be done, although on the latter issue, COPT officials said in May they would turn the system over if the county would waive allocation fees.

Understanding how business works should be one prerequisite for membership on the PenMar board. The other should be a willingness to communicate with the public on a regular basis - and tell some hard truths.

The first is that the community will not get everything it wants as a result of this development, but given COPT's track record and its landlord-tenant relationships with many government agencies, it should be able to bring in many of the high-paying jobs people are always saying they want.

Washington County cannot afford to be less than professional in its dealings with such companies, or they will avoid the area.

PenMar board members need to work with COPT, rather than kidding themselves and some community members that it's possible to ignore a signed contract and somehow get a "do over."

That only happens on the playground. After seven years, it's time to bring in some jobs.

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