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Report: Baltimore Co. gave developer preferential treatment for tennis facility

Baltimore County
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 17:06:22-04

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — A report conducted by the Office of the Inspector General shows that Baltimore County appeared to give preferential treatment to major local developer David Cornish, who requested to build his tennis facility larger than his home.

The report showed that Cordish was not required to go through a Special Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, which is customarily required when a Baltimore County resident proposes building a structure on their property larger than their primary home.

Cordish proposed building an enclosed tennis facility of about 15,000 sq feet, which would be larger than his home.

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"In 2021, the Office received a complaint that alleged the County gave a prominent developer, David Cordish, preferential treatment concerning the proposed construction of a large enclosed tennis facility, at times referred to as a tennis barn, at his residence in Baltimore County," according to the report.

Report - Case No. 21-001-1 Press Release by Adam Thompson on Scribd

The report reveals 115 cases dating back to 1996 in which Baltimore County residents had to attend a Special Hearing before an ALJ to get approval to build structures such as detached garages and sheds that would exceed the size of their homes.

"The mission of the Office of the Inspector General (“the Office”) is to provide increased accountability and oversight in the operations of the Baltimore County government by identifying fraud, abuse, and illegal acts, while also striving to find ways to promote efficiency, accountability, and integrity," the report states.

Report - Case No. 21-001-1 With Exhibits for Public by Adam Thompson on Scribd

The Inspector General's report also showed that the decision to allow Cordish to bypass a Special Hearing evolved over the course of several months, culminating in an opinion by an attorney within the Department of Permits, Approvals, and Inspections that was not supported by the Director or his senior staff.

The report details how Cordish’s proposed tennis facility was given priority review status by the Baltimore County Soil Conservation District at the request of the County’s Development Manager. Such requests are typically reserved for projects that provide some type of benefit to the community. By receiving such a designation, Cordish’s project was reviewed prior to 33 other projects.

The report concluded that based on the investigation, Cordish's project does not appear to meet the standard of projects that are typically given priority review status within SCD, and "the investigation determined that while Cordish ultimately did not move forward with the construction of the proposed tennis facility, the building permit remained active for a period of time and may still be active as of the date of this report."