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Abingdon residents still want answers regarding business park project [Letter]

While we are distracted by COVID-19, Harford County’s executive branch is seeking to get a case currently in Harford County Circuit Court dismissed. The case was brought by a group of Abingdon residents whose properties border Abingdon Woods, the 326-forest which would be destroyed in order to build “Abingdon Business Park,” a conglomerate of warehouses totaling over 2 million square feet.

Planning and Zoning granted the owner of Abingdon Woods exemptions to cut down over half of the largest trees on the property which are protected by state regulation. The reason P&Z gave for allowing these exemptions (financial hardship to the developer) is not a permitted reason. Due to these and other irregularities, plaintiffs in the case are asking Harford County Circuit Court to review Planning and Zoning’s decision.

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This is a case of local people who purchased homes bordering a forest, of their property interests, and of their peace of mind and lifestyle versus the property interests of developers who don’t even reside in this county (but who have made political contributions to Glassman and “Friends of Barry Glassman”). In going door-to-door in the neighborhoods bordering Abingdon Woods, we have not found one citizen who supports this plan. Nearly 500 people signed a petition against it before the coronavirus stopped us from knocking on doors.

Cindy Mumby, Director of Governmental and Community Relations, told us that the county executive has nothing to do with this project. Then why is he seeking to get the case dismissed? Why has his Planning and Zoning Department bent over backwards to grant exemptions so the project can get needed permits?

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The typical justification for such plans is that development is good for the county economically. But where is the benefit when property tax revenues fall? When the county has to grant tax exemptions to lure in warehouse tenants? When the added pollution and run off into Otter Point Creek destroys one of the last remnants of freshwater tidal marsh left in the Chesapeake Bay, now a draw for kayakers, tourists, students, etc?

The Stop Abingdon Business Park Coalition contacted the county executive’s office to request a video conference so that we can share ideas for trying to purchase Abingdon Woods from the owner and preserve it. Glassman has not yet responded.

PAM DEHMER

Bel Air

The writer is the vice president of the Harford County Climate Action.

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