More on the Land Deal

The Baltimore Sun reports on the unraveling New Kent land deal that appears more corrupt with each passing day. (O’Malley Watch, of course, remains THE source for details)

The Queen Anne’s County farmland that state and local officials spent $5 million to preserve this week could not have been developed in the foreseeable future because it can’t handle septic systems and it is not connected to public water and sewer lines, county officials said yesterday.

“It would not be developed — it could not be developed — without water and sewer,” said John E. Nickerson, the county’s director of environmental health.

There are public water and sewer lines about a half-mile from the 270-acre Grasonville tract, but the county has no plans to extend those lines to the property.

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And county health officials say the land can’t be developed using septic systems because soil tests show the water tables are too high. Those tests, commonly called percolation or “perc tests,” are a benchmark for whether rural properties can be developed.

So to all appearances Maryland attempted to buy land — at a premium — to keep it safe from development when that land was not suitable for development in the first place.

But the tale is more interesting. Click below and keep reading.

The current secretary of the department of natural resources, John R. Griffin, acted as a consultant to the current owners of the parcel, David Sutherland’s US Land Alliance. In this role he participated in a feasibility study which included a hydrological study of the property. Part of that study would have been the perc test that was conducted and filed with Queen Anne county health officials.

In a response to questions from comptroller Peter Franchot, Griffin denies even knowing that a perc test was performed much less the results of the test.

And we all know the rest of the story. Griffin lands a cushy job in the O’Malley administration, he brings his crony and former employer David Sutherland on board. The state makes an offer on this parcel an an inflated price. Hand. Cookie jar. Etc.

There are two observations to be made here. Griffin’s denial of even knowing a perc test had been performed may be truthful. He would not be the first pol who has received “consulting” fees for doing diddly squat (btw, has Griffin ever held a job that did not involve him being firmly affixed to the public teat?) on the off chance of a future return on investment. Otherwise it is hard to conceive of someone working on a feasiblity study and being ignorant of that salient fact.

The second is that I have no doubt that Sutherland and Griffin are probably scratching their heads in amazement over this. They undoubtedly feel that as they weren’t personally enriched by this egregious swindle and they were acting with the most noble of motives, to wit, providing US Land Alliance with more funds to protect open spaces, that this raid on Maryland’s taxpayers was completely justified.

This is the price we pay for one party rule.

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