Cooperation lacking

Regional friction: Unwelcome dispute in Arundel County over a mutually beneficial project.

January 30, 2001

A BAD LESSON in regional economic cooperation comes from Annapolis. That city's mayor wants to thwart an important business venture at a time when Baltimore-area jurisdictions are working together to expand the region's industrial base.

In a strange move, Mayor Dean L. Johnson is trying to interfere with plans to develop the David Taylor Research Center, to be located on 46.5 acres of land across the Severn River from his scenic town.

Now that the Anne Arundel County Council has approved legislation to allow the David Taylor project to go forward, the Navy is preparing to give Anne Arundel County the closed military site. The county, in turn, will transfer the land to a private development firm that plans to rebuild the infrastructure and transform the site into a high-technology business center.

Annapolis and Arundel County could reap huge benefits if the city and its environs become a high-tech hotbed.

You might expect Mayor Johnson to welcome this venture.

Not so.

He has asked the Navy to delay the land transfer until an economic analysis is done. Interestingly, the mayor served on a committee that drafted plans for reusing David Taylor. He waited a long time to attempt to block redevelopment.

The city certainly has shown that it's bullish on development. The mayor supports a $150 million mixed-use center that will boast two office buildings, a hotel and condominiums to ease the tight office-space market.

But economic development can't -- and shouldn't -- stop at the city's border.

It is troubling and shortsighted when one jurisdiction tries to undermine another's business ventures. Cities and counties ought to work with one another to generate more opportunities for all.

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