Developer apologizes to community leader

His remarks `not true,' Cordish says in letter

April 06, 2001|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore developer planning a "big box" retail store in eastern Baltimore County has apologized to a community leader for wrongly accusing him of being intoxicated and assaulting one of the developer's representatives.

David S. Cordish wrote in a letter this week that his remarks, printed March 20 in The Sun and directed at Thomas Lehner, a board member of the Bowleys Quarters Improvement Association, "are not true and I regret any embarrassment or harm that my statement may have caused him."

Lehner said yesterday that he accepted Cordish's apology. "The point was not to take him to court but only to clear my name. He admitted he was wrong," Lehner said.

Cordish plans to build a Wal-Mart at Carroll Island Plaza, a shopping center that has lost tenants and is in need of repair. Cordish received from the county a special exemption allowing him to sidestep a community meeting and other steps in the development process.

Community members remain concerned about the environmental impact the Wal-Mart would have on nearby Frog Mortar Creek. Residents also worry about added traffic congestion on the two-lane road into the Bowleys Quarters peninsula.

On Feb. 12, Matthew Copeland represented Cordish Co. to explain the Wal-Mart plan to the improvement association's board. Several board members found the presentation lacking, especially Lehner, who cursed Copeland and banged on a table.

Copeland, a college engineering student, left the meeting red-faced.

In a subsequent interview, Cordish said Lehner, a former president of the improvement association, was "drunk or whatever. He accosted my man at the meeting. He laid his hands on him, tried to beat him up."

Cordish also wrote in a letter to Michael Vivirito, the board president, that Copeland "was physically threatened, literally having to flee for [his] safety."

Vivirito said yesterday that the flap was an "unfortunate incident" and that Cordish will address the community April 26 in Bowleys Quarters.

"Most of the residents in Bowleys Quarters want a revitalized shopping center," said Vivirito. "Concerns are still out there about what a Wal-Mart store will do to local traffic."

Vivirito said the board recently voted not to ask Lehner to step down from his leadership position. Lehner said he appreciated that vote of confidence.

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