Baltimore County officials “appeared to give” prominent developer David Cordish preferential treatment in handling plans for an indoor tennis facility he wanted to build next to his Greenspring Valley home, an investigation released The regional inspector general concluded Tuesday.
Inspector General Kelly Madigan’s report said the county issued the building permit without requiring Cordish to undergo a special hearing before an administrative law judge. But county officials dispute that, saying the building permit was “never fully approved or issued.”
The facility was never built.
The IG report said county zoning review staff were “unanimously of the opinion” that the project would require a hearing because its proposed size of roughly 15,000 square feet would be larger than Cordish’s residence.
The report cites 115 cases dating back to the 1990s where other county residents had to attend special hearings to build “accessory” structures, such as garages and sheds, that would exceed the size of their homes.
The report also says the tennis project received “priority review status” for its land conservation plan at the request of the county’s development manager — allowing its plans to be reviewed ahead of 33 other projects. Priority rating is usually only given to projects that have some benefit to the community.
Administrative officials and Cordish said the county never issued a building permit for the proposed project.
“The district refutes the inspector general’s characterization of the handling of this matter,” Olszewski spokeswoman Erica Palmisano said in a statement. “There was never a building permit issued for this project, the project was never built, and no member of the county executive ever directed that this project be given priority.”
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County Administrative Officer Stacy Rodgers wrote that while the county’s former director of permits, approvals and inspections “approved the zoning portion of the building permit application, not all of the approvals required to issue the building permit were obtained and the building permit itself was never fully approved.” or released.”
A spokeswoman for Cordish offered this comment Tuesday: “Mr. Cordish had hoped to build a tennis court for his family’s use, but to his disappointment he never received planning permission and abandoned the project last year.’
The inspector general found no evidence that County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat now seeking re-election, wanted to give the project priority review status “or intended to do so,” Madigan wrote.
Baltimore Sun reported last year that Madigan’s office was investigating the role of Olszewski’s aides in advancing the “tennis barn” project.
Cordish’s neighbors requested a hearing, but their concerns “were not considered in the determination of whether the Project should be included in a special hearing,” Madigan’s report said.
Cordish filed a zoning application in early 2020, according to the inspector general’s report, which includes numerous email exchanges and other documents showing interactions between the developer and county staff.
“As can be seen from these emails and others included in this report, the project occupied the time and attention of senior staff and many other district employees for several months,” the report said.