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Protecting Port Covington's neighbors

Community Benefits Agreement can make sure Port Covington development will meet Baltimore's needs

The developer of the Port Covington project and impacted community organizations should look toward examples of legally binding community benefits agreements (CBAs) to develop a blueprint for how the community and developer will work collaboratively and transparently together to achieve shared goals for the project ("Port Covington developers announce multi-million deal with 6 nearby neighborhoods," July 14).

CBAs can cover a wide range of topics including community involvement in planning, design and implementation of the development; improving community access to new amenities; job creation and training; environmentally-sensitive construction and design; commercial synergy with surrounding areas; and leverage to seek financial support for community-led projects.

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The CBA negotiation process often leads to creative approaches that might not otherwise present themselves. These agreements must be written as legally binding contracts, complete with provisions for breach, dispute resolution and remedies so that there is accountability for all parties.

A notable example of a CBA in Baltimore is the State Center Community Benefits Agreement which set a new standard for how smart, inclusive development should be done in Baltimore. Executed by our client, State Center Neighborhood Alliance, Inc., with developer State Center, LLC, this CBA is the first of its kind in Baltimore and is unique even at a national level. Developing a well-crafted, enforceable CBA that engages all stakeholders throughout the entire development process is just as important as planning and building the bricks and mortar.

Kelly E. Pfeifer, Baltimore

The writer is supervising attorney at Community Law Center, Inc.

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