Thwarting economic growth

Redevelopment: County, Navy should move forward with plans to transfer Taylor research center.

March 02, 2001

IT STARTED with a virtual filibuster by a trio of County Council members. It continued with a letter from the Annapolis mayor to the Navy. And it persists with a citizens' lawsuit.

Strangely, this incoming fire is aimed at one of the region's best economic development opportunities -- the 46-acre David Taylor Research Center, slated for conversion a high-tech office haven.

The barrage of opposition to this former naval site is strange because two Naval Academy graduates have offered a solid blueprint to clean and redevelop the land into a waterfront gem that would bring a rare mix of environmental and economic benefits.

But in a letter to the Navy, Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson said the project could hurt commercial development on the other side of the Severn River. This, although his city has a dire shortage of premium office space. A shimmering business center nearby could send positive ripple effects across the water.

The lawsuit, in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, complains that the county ignored its moratorium on rezoning. Yet zoning for the Taylor site technically would remain unchanged. Moreover, the former military site is a unique and precious commodity that deserves special attention.

The proposal would turn a useless site into a tax revenue-generating center. The land would be cleaner than it was during its Navy days. And the project's 730,000 square feet of office space would generate 1,958 well-paying jobs.

Foes of the Taylor plan say they don't oppose development; they just want a plan they like. But they know plenty of time exists for negotiation before the county agrees with developers on specifics.

Meanwhile, delays are wasting time and money. The county spends $100,000 a month to maintain the stagnant property. Let's move forward with this important regional development project.

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