Since the Evans development called Marshall Square first was unveiled in 2004, there have been a few false starts.
In fact, the project was dead from the beginning - literally. When crews discovered graves on the-then-57-acre site, everything halted nearly six months until a public hearing could be held and the remains moved.
Then, when the developers first laid out some of their plans for the mixed-use project, they ran into stiff opposition from nearby Northwoods residents.
That opposition had nothing to do with the apartments commissioners already had approved in the development. Instead, the residents disliked the location of some of the project's commercial buildings.
The developers bowed to the requests, drawing praise at the time from those residents.
As another old saying goes: No good deed goes unpunished. Since then, any revision in the project has been met with hostile suspicion.
There have been revisions, no doubt. But there's also no doubt that the economy has drastically changed since that June 2004 unveiling of Marshall Square. The face of Evans has changed, too. Projects at Mullins Crossing and on the corners of Washington and Belair roads have sucked some of the commercial air out of the mixed-use plans for Marshall Square, forcing the Marshall family back to the drawing board.
Until very recently, the county's planning staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission had all but tied up the loose ends on the latest changes in Marshall Square - revisions that recognize the current glut of retail space in the Evans area and the relative shortage of high-end residential rental property.
With an investor ready to spend $40 million on an apartment project as part of Marshall Square, it looked like the project was finally a go.
County commissioners, however, inexplicably ignored their own planning staff and hit the brakes. They voted to reverse five years of their own precedent by imposing new restrictions on the number of apartments approved for the site.
The investor understandably pulled out. And, as expected, the Marshall family last week filed a lawsuit against the county for stripping value from their property.
Realistically, no observers expect the suit to go all the way through a trial and verdict. Taxpayers had better hope it doesn't; the suit is seeking more than $57 million in damages from the county - more money than the county's annual budget.
Expect, instead, for the suit to force cold-water sobriety on the power-drunk commissioners, who must now make a good-faith effort at working with Marshall Square.
Commissioners aren't the only ones needing a wake-up call, though. Nearby residents have been vocal in their wishes for the Marshall Square property. If taxpayers in the rest of the county don't want to get stuck with the bill for a losing lawsuit, they'd better get vocal, too.
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