Swallowing a shopping center

Anne Arundel: State capital's proposed annexation of refurbished retail plaza in Parole has merit.

June 30, 1999

ANNAPOLIS WOULD be smart to explore annexation opportunities. With the state capital struggling to expand its tax base, it should welcome neighbors looking for a city address.

These neighbors, after all, are prosperous because of their proximity to Annapolis.

Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson is right to begin annexation discussions with the owner of the Parole Plaza shopping center, which, when refurbished, is to have a Wal-Mart as its anchor.

Reeling in a retail center would generate a significant amount of tax revenue for the city. In the past, Annapolis has focused on annexing residential communities.

The Maryland Municipal League points out that cities often expand to increase their assessable tax bases. That's especially true for Annapolis which, like the nation's capital, devotes much of its land to tax-exempt government properties.

Anne Arundel County officials are understandably upset by the city's initiative. They complain that the Parole Plaza owner is playing one government against the other to win favor for plans to redevelop his 33-acre shopping center on Route 2. For the sake of city-county relations, Mayor Johnson should have informed County Executive Janet S. Owens that he intended to pursue annexation discussions with the owner. He contends the county hasn't always alerted him when it has wooed city businesses to relocate.

Personal frictions aside, the annexation idea has merit. Parole clearly belongs to greater Annapolis. Political obstacles, such as the ones that impede Baltimore from absorbing parts of Baltimore County, are less a factor between Annapolis and Anne Arundel.

Annapolis is obviously the anchor for growth in that area of the county. Mayor Johnson is being responsible to city taxpayers by looking at annexation as a sound way to spread their tax burden.

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