Shipley's Choice group, medical system to meet Long-sought talks to focus on office center project


A proposed medical complex in Shipley's Choice is causing a minor feud between the medical system planning the center and the community that will be its neighbor.

Members of the Shipley's Choice Community Association Inc. say the University of Maryland Medical System had refused repeated invitations to discuss the proposed 120,000-square-foot office center that it wants to build at the southeast corner of Benfield Boulevard and Veterans Highway.

Among the residents' concerns are the expected increase in vehicular traffic and the possible disruption of the neighborhood's quiet atmosphere once the complex becomes operational.

"We've been in the dark," said Edward L. Maddox, a member of the community association. "It's frustrating."

The people in Shipley's Choice will finally get a chance to talk to medical system officials Feb. 12. But there are stipulations. The officials will meet with residents only at the offices of the medical complex's engineering firm in Pasadena. No more than 15 people, including officials from the medical system and the engineering firm, would be allowed to attend. The medical system also said the offer was open only to Shipley's Choice residents, not to people living nearby in Ben Oaks, Mr. Maddox said.

In November, the medical system announced plans to open a 30,000-square-foot, two-story office building at the site for local physicians July 1. System officials also said they would consider adding three other office buildings.

Mr. Maddox said he called the medical system in November and invited officials to meet with the association and the Ben Oaks community. The system responded by asking for a written request outlining the questions the group wanted answered, he said.

Mr. Maddox said he sent a letter to the medical system in late November and received an answer a week before Christmas. "They didn't think there was a need for a meeting," Mr. Maddox recalled.

The association then wrote to local officials, asking for help. County Council President Diane R. Evans, whose district includes Shipley's Choice, said that she has talked to medical system officials several times, but that she has not been able to persuade them to talk to the association.

"I guess puzzling is the word I would use," Ms. Evans replied, when asked about the medical system's actions.

Jill Bloom, a spokeswoman, denied that medical system officials tried to avoid the association. She said officials had responded to previous questions in writing and wanted to meet with the group.

Ms. Bloom said the medical system wants to hold the meeting at the engineering firm's offices because the firm has the architectural models. Attendance was limited because of the size of the firm's conference room, she said.

"I think we are surprised by their reaction," Ms. Bloom said.

"We felt we had addressed their concerns."

Ms. Evans said it is important that both sides sit down and talk. "It's a major project in the area, and I'm of the belief that if it's a major project and there are questions or concerns about the project, it's good to have a meeting to talk about it," she said.

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