Maryland officials approved Wednesday a much-debated plan to move the headquarters of the state's housing agency — along with 380 jobs — from Anne Arundel County to Prince George's County.
The three-member Board of Public Works voted unanimously to vacate the Department of Housing and Community Development's state-owned building in Crownsville. The department will move to leased space in a new, transit-oriented development at New Carrollton, a hub for MARC and Amtrak as well as the Washington Metro. The move fulfills a long-standing promise by Gov. Martin O'Malley to relocate a major state agency to Prince George's.
The vote came after the board heard from advocates of the project, including Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, and opponents, including three Republican members of Anne Arundel's General Assembly delegation.
Supporters said the relocation would provide a catalyst for a vibrant, mixed-use development in Prince George's that would yield tax benefits for the state and county. Critics said the move from a state-owned facility to a leased space with a $58 million rental cost over 15 years was a waste of state resources and an additional cost to the 40 percent of the department's workers who live in Anne Arundel.
The move is expected to be completed in June 2015.
Comptroller Peter Franchot grilled administration officials about the move, lamenting that the relocation had pitted Anne Arundel and Prince George's against each other, but in the end he joined O'Malley and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp in approving the New Carrollton lease.
Despite misgivings, Franchot said, he decided it is the governor's prerogative to determine whether an agency move would be advantageous to the state.
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