'Boomtown' gets walk-through by Arundel officials

The Baltimore Sun

A month after four men were shot, two fatally, in the parking lot of an Odenton bar, Anne Arundel County officials walked along the troubled strip nearby, noting broken fences, piles of trash and improperly placed signs.

"These so-called 'nuisance crimes,' if they're not attended to they can be a bridge to more serious crime," Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold said yesterday.

Officials with the Health Department, the Planning and Zoning Department and the police accompanied the county executive on a tour of the area. They noted violations but did not issue any citations. They plan to submit their findings in a report to Leopold this week.

Known as "Boomtown," the stretch of Annapolis Road across from the Fort Meade has fallen into disrepair in recent years. An increase in security has led to fewer people leaving the base at lunchtime, and an impending highway project has business owners reluctant to make repairs because their property could be seized through eminent domain.

On Nov. 16, four Annapolis men were shot on the parking lot of the Traffic Bar. About two weeks later, police arrested three men and a woman.

With an influx of residents expected as part of the military base realignment known as BRAC, the area must be revitalized, Leopold said. The state announced Monday that the nearby Odenton Town Center could be eligible for a share of millions in state funds.

Residents of the Seven Oaks neighborhood have complained that the Boomtown strip has become an eyesore and a magnet for crime.

"I'd like to see both of these buildings demolished," Seven Oaks resident Brett Roberts said, pointing to an auto parts store and Chinese restaurant that have been boarded up for more than a year.

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