In a letter addressed to Cumberland Mayor Brian K. Grim and the City Council, local homeowners, the Institute for Justice and Preservation Maryland called on the City to formally disavow the use of eminent domain and embrace an alternative vision.

The letter to Mayor Grim also referenced a “letter of intent” between the City of Cumberland and PTV Capital Partners (PennTex Ventures) which was released by the City in the course of a recent Public Information Act inquiry. In the letter, the city flatly stated that “[t]he City has the power of eminent domain . . . and intends to utilize these powers to acquire the Properties for economic development.” The chilling statement comes after months of city and CEDC officials denying any interest or willingness to use eminent domain for this use.

Fortunately, there are sound alternatives to this divisive and unnecessary project. Several of those alternatives were included in a report prepared by Preservation Maryland, including opportunities for sensitive infill development, nearby opportunities for larger commercial growth, and innovative workforce housing options which could be embraced by the City.

Following the release of the letter, the Coalition also held a telephone town hall Thursday evening that reached hundreds of Cumberland City residents. The message of the call was that the homeowners and organizations are willing to work with the Mayor and City Council to draft an alternative plan that strikes a compromise and involves no eminent domain takings.

Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding explained,

“We see this as an opportunity to work with the City of Cumberland to find a way to balance new growth while still respecting Cumberland’s history and heritage. It’s up to the Mayor and City Council to end this divisiveness and respond to our honest and reasonable request.”