Double-crossed in Crofton?

Anne Arundel: Community group looks like it wants to renege on a deal it made with developer 11 years ago.

September 27, 1999

COMMUNITY associations have every right to demand that their members honor their covenants, even if homeowners are prevented from painting a front door the color they want.

Likewise, people who enter agreements with community associations are right to demand that the groups hold up their end of the bargain, regardless of how long ago the deal was signed.

The Crofton Civic Association is showing utter disregard in this vein. It is trying to interfere with plans by a landowner to build a six-story hotel near the entrance to the western Anne Arundel County community on commercialized Crain Highway.

William Berkshire, a Crofton resident, signed an agreement with the community association in 1988. He deeded to it a pond, 22 additional acres and the large gates that became a signature of the planned community when it opened 35 years ago.

He also agreed to perpetually protect from further development the Crofton country club, which he owns within the gated community. Mr. Berkshire fulfilled his obligations.

The association, in turn, promised not to oppose his bid to rezone land outside the gates to build a 145-room, six-story hotel.

Civic association President Gayle Sears now wants to revisit the agreement. Things have changed in 11 years, she and supporters say. They dislike the site of Mr. Berkshire's proposed hotel and want further public discussion.

The Crofton Civic Association of 1999 cannot divorce itself from the Crofton Civic Association of 1988. The agreement binds the group to its commitment. The association can ask Mr. Berkshire to amend the contract, but it cannot renege on the deal simply because it is dated. If business agreements mean so little, Mr. Berkshire should be free to rent a bulldozer and fill in the lake if he pleases.

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