Despite increasing opposition from business interests in the Metro triangle area, New Carrollton Mayor Jordan Harding said this week the city still intends to move forward with its plans to annex the tax-rich triangle and the neighboring communities of West Lanham and West Lanham Hills. The move eventually could add almost $300,000 a year to city tax revenues.
Progress on the proposed annexation has been in limbo for more than a month. The city is awaiting presentation of a petition from citizens in the West Lanham Hills area who want to become part of New Carrollton. West Lanham Hills Citizen's Association President Bronson Row said his group has gathered the required number signatures but wants a few extra to provide a "cushion" before presenting the petition.
During the last few weeks, businessmen from Metro East - a multimillion dollar industrial, commercial and hotel complex being built in the Metro triangle - have been showering the city with letters of protest.
If the area is annexed, the businesses would pay a total of about $274,000 a year in taxes to New Carrollton after the Metro East site is developed. Since the county, not New Carrollton, provides police protection and because businesses are responsible for their own trash removal, the businessmen claim they will receive nothing for their tax money.
"When we contracted for our property, we were aware of the Prince George's County and Maryland state taxes and knew that the police and fire protection and road maintenance would be as satisfactory as they are in the area of the county in which we are presently located (Clinton)," wrote Thomas McNutt, president of Retail Store Employes Union, Local 400, in a letter to the mayor. Local 400 plans to build a 50,000-square-foot headquarters and office building in Metro East.
In another letter to Harding, Shell Oil Company, which bought the industrial-zoned Metro East land last year for $3.8 million and is now selling finished lots, called annexation "an illusive benefit at best and a crippling blow to county development at worst."
Rouse & Associates, Landmark Associates, hotel developer Ralph Deckelbaum and Benjamin Rowe, who is board chairman of the George Hyman Construction Company, also have written to Harding protesting annexation.
"People are saying, 'Oh (we) want the money,' but we don't need the money," said Harding, pointing to the city's present bonded indebtedness of less than $25,000. "The money is a side benefit, no doubt about it, but there are other considerations.
"The main consideration is that it (Metro East) is going to be there whether we like it or not, so we want to be able to have some control over it. But business interests in the triangle should not jump to conclusions about what the situation is going to be vis a vis the city, because even if annexation takes place the city will be good to deal with."
After West Lanham Hills submits its pro-annexation petition, the New Carrollton council is expected to proceed with several steps on the annexation issue. Last month, the council adopted a resolution authorizing an advisory referendum on the proposed annexation. The referendum would be set in motion once the city receives a petition for the annexation.
However, the city would not be legally bound to act in accordance with the results of an advisory referendum.
There are efforts under way to require the city to put a binding referendum on the ballot. Two citizens groups say they are holding petitions they plan to present to the city as soon as the pro-annexation petition is submitted and the signatures validated.
The result could be that voters would be faced with two referendums on annexation, one advisory and one binding.