Arundel golf course bill approved

group is set to challenge developer

April 09, 2001|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Annapolis officials say the long-promised Pasadena public golf course project is back on track after the General Assembly passed emergency legislation intended to clear the way for construction.

Legislators sought the bill, which broadens the charter of the project's developer- Maryland Economic Development Corp. - after a golf course development company challenged the legality of MEDCO's involvement.

Dennis Callahan, county recreation and parks director, said he expects construction to begin in early July, with completion in fall 2002 - six months behind schedule.

"Everybody's assuming that it's back on track, and we're ready to go," Callahan said.

Although the legislation would allow the project to move forward, the Maryland Taxpayers Association wants to repeal the measure, hoping to take its effort to a statewide referendum in the November 2002 election.

The group plans to begin its petition drive at 9:45 a.m. today at the State House in Annapolis to collect the required signatures for a spot on the ballot.

Association President Kenneth R. Timmerman claims the legislation gives MEDCO virtually unlimited authority to compete with the private sector and takes the corporation too far from its original mission of developing properties in economically depressed areas. The quasi-public, nonprofit agency was established by the state in 1984 and uses its tax-free bonding authority to finance development projects.

Timmerman said an estimated 1,000 volunteers will begin working to gather the necessary 46,128 signatures to take the issue to referendum by the June 30 deadline. The number represents 3 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the last election.

"This has nothing to do with MEDCOs legitimate and original purpose," Timmerman said. "We think this is an outrageous power grab by a small group of individuals at MEDCO and in the state government to vastly expand the powers and scope of MEDCO."

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