Parole's growth-control plan, adopted nearly two years ago, will discourage retail development in Parole Plaza, home of Woodward & Lothrop Inc., and direct it toward Annapolis Mall, a Woodies official said yesterday.
Robert Mulligan, Woodies' vice chairman, called for a new public hearing on the mall's plans to add a Nordstrom department store and 45 smaller stores. He charged that the expansion will lead to traffic congestion, polluted air, land erosion and wetland degradation.
"This Parole plan, along with the proposed Annapolis Mall expansion, will have dramatic short- and long-term effects on the area's future," Mulligan said. "Yet, there has been little opportunity for the public most affected by these actions to be heard."
Mall officials, who maintain that Woodies has undertaken a massive public campaign against the expansion to stop rival Nordstrom, took issue with Mulligan's statement.
A committee of residents, developers and planners created the Parole plan over several years. Mall officials discussed expansion during several dozen public meetings, but Woodies officials never showed up, said Rodney Haynes, vice president of development for the mall's manager.
"Now that Woodies is not a part of the mall, they seem to have amnesia about the meetings that took place," Haynes said.
Woodies said the environmental issues first came to light after Annapolis Mall dropped Sears and Woodies but included Nordstrom in the proposed expansion. Mall management has said it tried to entice Woodies to the mall for several years, but the retailer rejected an offer. The store canceled later meetings with mall management, Haynes said.
Mulligan's statement said that, in light of Woodies' renewed 20-year lease at Parole Plaza, "the company and employees alike are anxious to ensure the Parole area's vitality by calling for prudent decision-making."
"We encourage healthy competition because we all benefit," Mulligan said. "Let's slow down the rush to judgment and get more citizens involved in the decision-making process. We should all be concerned about a concerted plan to limit consumers' retail options to a single location."
Haynes said it was "laughable" for Woodies to use its new lease as proof of a renewed commitment to Parole and the plaza, since "they can always sublease to somebody else."
Woodies, which owns its building and leases the ground, had to sign a new lease or the building would have reverted to the shopping plaza landlord, Haynes said.
Neil T. Proto, an attorney for Woodies, however, said the chain could not sublease, and is committed to the Parole area -- legally and philosophically -- for the duration of its 20-year agreement.