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Federal prisons spokeswoman: No need for facility in Hagerstown

June 24, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A federal prison will not be built near Hagerstown any time soon, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Prisons said Monday.

Traci Billingsley said the federal government is building prisons in California, Louisiana, New Hampshire and McDowell County in southern West Virginia, but nothing has been planned for Western Maryland.

"We have no need for a facility in Maryland," Billingsley said.

On June 13, NAI Michael Companies Inc., a real-estate brokerage firm in Lanham, Md., drafted a letter to the mayor and Hagerstown City Council that said the company had spoken to the Bureau of Prisons about the possibility of building a federal penitentiary on about 220 acres of land between Hagerstown Community College and Robinwood Medical Center.

David Wills, vice president of NAI Michael Companies Inc., told The Associated Press on Friday that his company is representing PNC Financial Services Group Inc., which acquired the land for $9 million in a foreclosure sale in March 2007.

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The land is selling for $11.5 million, Wills told The Herald-Mail last week.

Wills said the prison was discussed as one of several land uses for the property. Other possible uses included residential housing, convenience retail, and research and development. Wills said NAI Michael Companies Inc.'s only interest in the property was to sell it to "anyone who wants to buy it."

The land is zoned for residential and agricultural use, said Michael C. Thompson, planning director for Washington County. Any other uses would have to be approved first by local authorities.

Four of the five members of the Hagerstown City Council said last week that they would not support another prison being built in the community because three state prisons sit a few miles south of the city on Roxbury Road.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer declined to comment.

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