Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ken vs. Clarksville

When GreenStone Ventures failed to negotiate an easement with their neighbors in Clarksville for their development project, the county executive took sides. According to this story by Lindsey McPherson in Explore Howard, Ken Ulman said “a huge discrepancy, almost a laughable discrepancy" between what the Kendalls believe the easement is worth and what the county believes it is worth.”

He directed the Department of Public Works to study the access issues in a thinly veiled attempt to give GreenStone what they couldn’t get themselves. GreenStone, after all, was the development team that he had chosen to redevelop the 7.8 acre site of the former Clarksville Middle School. Ken has lauded their mixed use proposal as “unlike any other.”

The plan that DPW wants to “study” involves an extension of Great Star Drive that would cut through the adjacent properties of Pizza Hut and Kendalls Hardware and link up with Auto Drive. The owners of Pizza Hut and Kendalls are opposed to this because it would take their land and adversely affect their business.

In order to fund this study, DPW is proposing to move $600,000 from the budget for the completion of Dorsey Run Road. The Dorsey Run Road is currently on hold as long the Montevideo Road site is still under consideration for the CSX Intermodal terminal. In order to move this money around, DPW needs council approval. Ordinarily this would not be a big deal but since Councilperson Greg Fox introduced legislation to prohibit the county from using the power of eminent domain for private development projects, this simple budget item got a full public hearing on Monday night.

The council got an earful. Of the eighteen people to testify, none spoke in favor of Ken and his road. I thought Senator Allan Kittleman summed the issue up rather succinctly.
That being said, this is far from over. Though Emily Kendall told the council that the county is still trying to work out a compromise on the easement issue, she has good reason to be concerned. So far Ken has demonstrated an ability to pretty much get what he wants out of the Dem controlled council.

This battle of Clarksville is far from over.
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