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Public housing disputes over complex in Annapolis being resolved, officials say

State, Annapolis city and public housing officials, and residents appear close to resolving their disputes over the new Bloomsbury Square complex, which could clear the way for public housing residents to move into the state-built waterfront community.

Just when remains a question, though.

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The latest tentative mid-August move-in date passed without residents budging from their 62-year-old public housing complex, which sits next door and is due to be razed for a $26 million expansion of the Lowe House Office Building. The initial timeline had residents of the old project moving this past spring.

Representatives of the various agencies and tenants have been meeting in recent weeks to iron out differences - a far cry from the threat last month by Secretary of General Services Boyd K. Rutherford to sell the units at market value amid a myriad of issues. No new meeting date has been set for all of them, but state, city and housing officials said they are making progress.

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Rutherford said the department has resolved about 90 to 95 percent of its disagreements over the project and now has just a few building-code issues outstanding with the Annapolis Housing Authority.

Rutherford said that the project is being built by the state according to its own standards, which he said supersede local building codes.

"I think we're going to be able to resolve those issues," he said yesterday after a state Board of Public Works meeting where the project was discussed.

Rutherford said the state is ready for residents to move in now. But several issues remain unresolved. A new target move-in date hasn't been set for the 51-unit project, which stands at the gateway to the state capital.

At yesterday's Board of Public Works meeting, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer again raised his concerns about the project, a pet peeve.

Among other things, Schaefer complained that Housing Authority Chairman Trudy McFall, who has been at the center of the dispute with the state, "has decided she's in charge of everybody."

McFall, who was not at the meeting, said she was baffled by the remark. "I thought I had been real helpful in resolving all these things," she said.

The Housing Authority has to sign off on the work in order to take possession of the complex. Another lingering issue involves what Schaefer has called "outhouses," but are actually storage sheds. Painted white, they stand out along Rowe Boulevard, though one has been test-painted red to blend in with the brick. The Housing Authority has suggested removing about half of them for security reasons, McFall said.

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The city of Annapolis has separate issues with the state, including a dispute over a $235,900 fee that the city says it is owed to hook the units into sewer and water service.

"We have made some significant progress. Is everything resolved? No. But we are making progress," Annapolis City Administrator Bob Agee said.


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