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State will review decision to OK mall's expansion


The state Department of the Environment will review its decision to grant permission for Annapolis Mall to expand, a department spokesman said yesterday, one day after Woodward Lothrop Inc. raised new allegations in its fight against the expansion.

Woodies, embroiled in a public squabble over the mall's plans to add a Nordstrom department store and 45 smaller stores, has asked the state to revoke or modify the mall's approval for a storm-water management pond.

In a June 10 letter to department Secretary Robert Perciasepe, Woodies' attorneys charge that the proposed storm-water basin would violate environmental laws and increase chances of downstream erosion, undercutting stream banks and washing out trees and vegetation.

Mall officials scoffed at the allegations. The charges prove the retailer will go to any lengths to delay mall expansion and stop rival Nordstrom from opening, said Tim Lowe, development director for CenterMark Properties, the mall's manager.

Still, the environment department, which already has certified that the project will not degrade water quality, will look into Woodies' new findings, spokesman John Goheen said.

"We're taking them seriously, and we'll get back to Woodies," Goheen said.

Company officials say they're fighting mall management for environmental and technical reasons and feel no competitive ill will toward Nordstrom. They have threatened to sue state and county officials and have filed two separate appeals before the county Board of Appeals.

Earlier this week, Woodies withdrew one of those appeals, which objected to issuance of the mall's grading permit, after learning it had missed the filing deadline by four days. Woodies officials incorrectly believed they had 30 days to appeal and filed May 19, said Woodies' attorney, Neil T. Proto.

In that appeal, Woodies had primarily objected to grading for the storm-water basin, Proto said.

In its petition to the environment department, Woodies says Baystate Environmental Consultants Inc. reviewed the mall site and public documents relating to the expansion.

The consultants, hired by Woodies' attorneys, concluded the proposed storm-water pond can't adequately manage parking lot runoff, increasing chances of downstream erosion, the petition says.

"It's interesting that Woodies has to go to Massachusetts to find a consultant to review this," said Lowe, referring to Massachusetts-based Baystate.

"We feel very comfortable that everything we did met the requirements of the law. Our drawings have stood the test of scrutiny," he said.

The county, which is building the storm-water pond for both the mall expansion and Bestgate Road widening, has nearly

completed the work, Lowe said.

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