From John J. Gessner:
The following is a letter to the editor I wrote to the Aegis in response to their editorial of Wednesday April 13,2011 about the rumored construction of a new Wal Mart store in Bel Air. So far, the Aegis has refused to print my letter. I thought you might be interested to read it.
April 13, 2011
VIA FACSIMILE (410-638-1060)
10 N Hays St
Bel Air, MD 21014
I completely agree with your statement in the editorial entitled, “A business decision” that appeared in the Wednesday edition of the Aegis that it is hard to blame Walmart for considering a new store on land with proper zoning for a new store. I also agree with you that, assuming Walmart does proceed with such a project, it should be allowed to build the new store at that location.
However, I was both amused and disappointed by your statement lamenting a failure of land use planning that prevented a White Marsh style shopping destination from being developed at the Walmart-BJ/s Target-Lowe’s complex in Abingdon, and if such a project had been built the potential problems associated with a Walmart at Plumtree Road and Route 924 could have been avoided.
My former partner, Frank Hertsch, and I were the land use attorneys who tried 20 years or so ago to obtain approvals for just such a White Marsh style shopping destination in Abingdon, the Windsor Mall. We argued then that allowing Windsor Mall to be constructed would provide exactly the type of project that your editorial now supports. It is important to note that at that time, our clients agreed to perform tens of millions of dollars of improvements to the Route 24 I-95 interchange at their cost and expense. Those same improvements are now being constructed 20 years later at taxpayer expense.
As I recall, one of the main opponents of the Windsor Mall project was the Aegis. What a shame that the Aegis of 20 years ago didn’t have the same insight into land use planning that the present Aegis editorial board apparently now has. You are exactly right. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
John J. Gessner