Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Anne Arundel's Flying Circus

Today's Capital reports on what has to be one of the most preposterous giveaways of state money in this writer's recent memory. Lee Airport, owned by the Lee family of Edgewater was the recipent of a state grant from the Maryland Aviation Administration in the amount of $170,000 to help design and carry out changes to the airpark and runway. To my mind, if the state's going to be handing out $170k in corporate welfare, there had better be a pretty substantial reason. There isn't.

What precipitated the need to change the airpark? The fact that the Lee family is trying to develop the adjacent property, which is currently farmland. About a year ago, the Lee's, using the coercive force of their lawyer, "negotiated" with the community to get zoning changes approved by the County Council. Turns out these zoning changes, which will allow a Harbor Center-sized commercial development on the farm plot, may cause the creation of structures which impede the flight path. So, we have a situation in which a family has played hardball with local environmentalists and the community, to use their land more profitably, and has now turned to the State to help them salve the self-inflicted wounds to their airport. They stand to gain millions of dollars on the sale of the former farm properties, and yet they are using tens of thousands of our tax dollars to refurbish their airport which has been impacted by the decision. We've been gamed, folks.

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