January 12, 2014 5:34 am ET
Is federal law enforcement intervention needed?
Source: A Community in Crisis
“Upon further review…”
Words that football fans across the nation have gotten used to hearing often during the game, as replay has (in some—but not all—cases) allowed officials to correct mistakes made on the playing field.
My question is, “Where is the review on the Fort Howard mess?”
That is about as cutesy as I will get in this blog because we are talking about some serious issues here. So serious, in fact, that I think it’s time for the FBI to get involved before it is too late and the shovels are in the ground.
Upon further review of everything that has happened, I believe there has been some serious criminal activity taking place that will end up with the project dumped into the lap of the people who live on the North Point Peninsula.
I think it is time for you, the folks in this community, to WAKE UP.
If you don’t, then the “alarm clock,” if you will, will be the sounds of trucks, bulldozers, cranes, and other noise that threaten to become an unwanted part of your daily routine.
This situation threatens to be your worst nightmare, as the whole Peninsula will be changed forever in a way that will impact your lives negatively, including the value of your homes, the clogging of your streets, and another stick it to the taxpayers, as alluded to in this report by Larry Hogan from Change Maryland.
It’s called Pay to Play, and Mr. Hogan explained it well. However, he left out an important piece of the messy puzzle—Jim Smith, our state Secretary of Transportation.
I’ll explain that in a moment, but first the gory details.
As you know, I have written numerous blogs on this subject. I have detailed a GAO investigation into this matter, and I have stated the numerous laws related to proper procedure that the VA and developer must follow. And yet, none of the legal requirements have been met. This mess involves the most egregious and flagrant “in your face” conduct that I can remember.
This whole matter involves what is known as an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL), where the VA leases its property to developers so that our veterans may receive the help that we as a nation owe these brave men and women. It saddens my heart to think that many of these EUL’s are being turned into anything but programs for our vets, as you will see is the case here.
Let’s take a look at some of the serious issues. First, as many of you know, we have the case of our vets losing their deposits to the first developer, John Infantino’s Federal Development. You remember that John fled the country to avoid prosecution, don’t you? I wonder why?
Anyway, under the law and VA guidelines, any EUL involved in violations of the statutes is supposed to be terminated by the VA, which was done. When I spoke to Mr. Edward Bradley, he told me that, once an EUL is terminated, all information submitted by the developer is no longer valid. But, in the situation of Fort Howard LLC, this does not seem to be the case.
If you look for any paperwork on the project, there is none. The VA has taken a vast majority of this material out of the public view. I am talking about documents that clearly show that the VA’s own guidelines have been violated. For example, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued. This means the community has been informed of all issues and has no objections. However, if you look at the date on the report, it’s the same FONSI that Infantino used in 2005.
Upon further review, that is against the law.
Other areas of potential issues of foul play include the public hearings that are supposed to be held, by the VA’s own requirements, under the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA. The VA is the only agency authorized to conduct such public meetings.
Guess what, folks? As of yet, not one official meeting has been held. This is the law under Titles 4 and 15 of the U.S. code.
Upon further review, that again is against the law.
Now here is where it gets interesting. A community meeting was held back on June 18, 2011. At that meeting, many issues were discussed, but no clear answers were given.
Now, what is also very disconcerting is the fact that in attendance at that meeting were the developers—Timothy Munshell and his partner Carl Williams—along with members of the law firm Smith, Gildea & Schmidt. Numerous questions were raised by the community about traffic, infrastructure cost, and veterans’ care. The developers publically admitted that a development strictly for vets would be cost prohibitive.
That hurts my heart to type that statement.
Here is how our veterans actually fit into the scope of things. Fifty units will be set aside (out of 1,473) for our veterans, which is a far cry from this quote from Ron Cassie’s article:
“The 95-acre Fort Howard campus will include 1,300 to 1,500 residential units, with priority given to veterans and/or their spouses. The residential community will be a 55-and-older community with a mix of affordable units, Williams said, noting that preference for veterans is part of the proposed deal with the VA.”
Is 50 units really a “priority,” folks?
As for the new clinic (there is already one present), the expansion will amount to an additional 100 square feet—about the size of one room.
Hardly a huge dent, if you ask me.
To make matters worse, the Smith law firm promised the community another meeting within 30 days to provide answers to all the questions.
Many sets of 30 days have come and gone, and we’re still waiting.
My question is, “Why would an experience law firm that specializes in land development allow a developer to submit outdated data that is prohibited by the VA?”
Your guess is as good as mine, but the answer appears to be, “Because nobody is doing anything about it.”
The Fort Howard area is zoned for 550 units, and a PUD is required to change that in order for this project to move forward. However, as I stated to anyone that will listen, this entire project appears to be a giant fraud (in my humble opinion). The actions to date are against the law, which is why I think the FBI should investigate before it’s too late.
In addition to my request, Russ Donnelly also has requested that the Department of Justice conduct an investigation. His written request was sent months ago, but—as of yet— there has been no word from the feds.
I strongly suggest that people attend a community meeting on the matter, which will take place on January 22 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the North Point Volunteer Fire Hall. Before you attend, be sure to look at the relevant PDF files, which are located on my website under “downloads.”
This fight is far from over…