Several members of the Fort Howard community testified at the very well attended recent Comprehensive Zoning Mapping Process hearing held at Dundalk High School’s new state- of- the- art auditorium on March 31, 2016.
Fort Howard Community Association testified with a two minute summary of the following letter:
Good evening ladies and gentleman of the Baltimore County Planning Board. My name is Mr. Pappas. I am a vice president of the Fort Howard Community Association, and served as the 2015 vice president and pro- temp president of the North Point Peninsula Council.
Tonight I represent the members of the Fort Howard Community Association to address zoning issue 7-0033 and 7-0048 regarding the Fort Howard Veterans Park, the Baltimore County Land-marked Fort Howard Park, and the Fort Howard Veterans Administration Medical Center property.
Beginning with the two park issues: Fort Howard Community Association members held a meeting March 24, 2016 and unanimously agreed to unequivocally and undisputed fully support the down zoning of the Fort Howard Veteran Park from DR5.5 to Neighborhood Commons.
Likewise, Fort Howard Community Association unanimously agreed to equivocally and undisputed fully support the down zoning of the Baltimore County Land-marked Fort Howard Park from RC20 to Neighborhood Commons.
Turning our attention to the Fort Howard Veterans Administration Medical Center property:
Fort Howard Community Association unanimously agreed equivocally and undisputed fully NOT to support any zoning designating that would permit any additional building construction improvements upon the entire property:
UNTIL, a traffic impact study is conducted, per the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act and is publicly posted. This traffic impact study was publicly promised by Fort Howard Development LLC in November 2011 and is reported a Veteran Administration Enhanced Use Lease requirement. Through a Freedom of Information Act Request to the Veterans Administration it was verified no traffic impact study or any data for a traffic study has been conducted/acquired.
UNTIL , under the authority, conditions, and terms of Veterans Administration Enhance Use Lease Article 14 (C) which states ”In the event of damaged by fire …Lessee shall: (a) within 30 days of such damage file an insurance claim and (b) with in one-hundred twenty days of receiving such proceeds repair, restore, or rebuild the Property to its original condition by applying all such monies towards the result, ” Fort Howard Development LLC comply with Article 14 (C) and fully rebuild the three historic officers quarter destroyed by fire at the campus.
UNTIL, under authority of Veterans Administration Enhance Use Lease Article 13 (B) and Baltimore County law Fort Howard Development LLC pay in full the fine of 43,500 dollars imposed on January 14, 2016 by Baltimore County administrative law judgement for violation of Baltimore County Fire Protection Code.
UNTIL, under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 subparts 800.5, 800.6, and 800.7 are in full compliance with by Fort Howard Development LLC.
UNTIL, all terms, conditions, and stipulations of the Fort Howard Enhanced Use Lease and the Programmatic Agreement signed by the Omar Bradly, Veterans Administration,- Rodney Little, Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer,- Timothy Munshell, Fort Howard Development LLC,- John Fowler, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,- Tyler Gearhart, Preservation Maryland,- and David Brown, National Trust for Historic Preservation are in full compliance.
It should be noted the Advisory Council on Historic preservation was advised February 17, 2016 by the Veterans Administration Office of Asset Enterprise management that, and I quote “ The developer’s inability to move forward places him in default with the terms of the EUL Lease amendment and the programmatic agreement,” end quote.
Lastly, I wear tonight an American flag lapel pin gifted to me personally by World War II veteran Al Clasing two weeks before his recent passing. I wish to devote any remaining speaking time of mine as a moment of silence to Mr. Al Clasing in memory of all his efforts to Save Fort Howard.
After the hearing proceedings were closed , 7th District Planning Board member Dr. Chris Haffer fielded questions from a group of over thirty attendees and provided recommendations.
Dr. Haffer in the after-hearing Q&A explained once the Neighborhood Commons overlay is applied to a property the Baltimore County Council must and only through a legislative act voted on by all seven councilman and approved by the county executive can the Neighborhood Commons be varied and further that the Neighborhood Commons designation does not diminish or lose legal enforcement in the event the property is transferred into private or other public ownership by sale or gift.
Planning Board Chairman N. Scott Phillips gave special recognition to FHCA member Miss Stephanie Williams as the last speaker of the last CZMP hearing for the 2016 cycle. Miss Williams had the proverbial “last word.” Go girl!
Fort Howard Community Association, Inc. does take exception to to the Veterans Administration characterizing Councilman Crandell’s effort to bring stakeholders together through the CZMP process as the sole reason for Fort Howard Development, LLC being in default of the Veterans Administration Enhanced Use Lease and Programmatic Agreement given the above mentioned chronic nonperformance of the lease since it was award December 2011 and the recent loss of medical services to veterans of eastern Baltimore County with the permanent closure of Out Patient Clinic.
The closing of the outpatient clinic precludes the building of the new state-of -the -art outpatient clinic promised by the Veterans Administration as part of the redevelopment of the “veterans preferred community.”
In addition, the Maryland State Veterans Home for veterans promised by Veterans Administration as part of the redevelopment package has also been terminated.
Effectively the Veterans Administration has no presence, interest, or benefit to veterans at the Fort Howard Medical Center and any veteran who may live in the proposed redevelopment will have no access to medical care benefits at the campus in the future.
Of key interest Veterans Administration Enhanced Use Lease Article 8-DISPOSAL OF PROPERTY TO LESSEE: Should at any time during the Lease term or within thirty (30) days after the end of the Lease term, if the VA determines that the property is of no longer need by the VA, the VA may see to dispose of the property to the Lessee per the provisions of 38 U.S.C 8164
Given the Veterans Administration has foresaken the Maryland State Veterans Home and the promised brand new10,230 square foot state-of-the art veterans outpatient clinic to serve eastern Baltimore County veterans is it plausible the entire property is next?
“It’s our community, let’s take care of it.”