Annexation of IKEA, Holiday Inn is finalized
Jan. 8, 2004
Meghan Mullan
Staff Writer

The College Park City Council has approved the annexation of the Holiday Inn and IKEA properties, stretching the city boundaries by about 72 acres and adding land that formerly belonged to the unincorporated area of Beltsville.

Mayor Stephen Brayman called the annexation of IKEA "a fantastic deal for the city."

IKEA, the world's largest home furnishings retailer, opened in June on 30 acres north of the city limits. The Holiday Inn is between IKEA and the city's northern boundary at Interstate 495.

As a result of the annexation agreements, IKEA will join the city with a 30 percent tax rebate for five years, said Samuel Finz, city manager.

Holiday Inn, who held up the process to negotiate a larger tax break, will get back all of their real estate tax for the life of the current ownership of the property, Finz said.

Holiday Inn will have to pay the full amount of inspection fees and amusement tax, Finz said.

The addition of the two large properties received little public comment at multiple public hearings offered by the city and scant resistance from Beltsville residents, who, as members of an unincorporated area, had no official way to stop the process.

"Most College Park residents were very happy to see this happen," Brayman said. "Since our community is going to be dealing with impacts of these (properties), residents should enjoy the tax revenues yielded by this project. I have yet to meet a resident who does not support it."

College Park resident Joan Carol Poor said she has mixed feelings about the move.

"It (annexation) is a financial move on the part of the city," she said. "They're looking to get more money without raising taxes."

Poor is concerned that slapping more land onto the tip of the city will increase the city's already scattered sense of community.

"I would like to see the city work at maintaining ourselves as identifiable," she said. "We're so fragmented."

Finz said the notion that the city is not cohesive is "bunk." "It (the annexation) extends the natural boundaries," he said. "It rounds out the northern most boundary."

Kevin Kennedy, a Beltsville resident and president of the Committee to Incorporate Beltsville, said he was very disappointed to hear the city had annexed IKEA. "(IKEA) romanced us, when they first came, to go along with what they wanted to build. They were not up front with us. I don't know why they went into College Park."

Joseph Roth, an IKEA spokesman, said the company was approached by both College Park officials and Beltsville residents about annexing, but that IKEA eventually went with the plan to become a part of College Park because of the services an incorporated city can offer.

"We've only been open for six months," Roth said. "But the city services seemed appropriate and desirable (in College Park)."

Andy Bowen, president of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department and a life-long Beltsville resident, said the unit is the primary responder to the annexed area, even though the property taxes from IKEA will now be going to College Park.

"I don't know why they had to annex it," Bowen said. "Beltsville citizens put up with the nasty traffic (IKEA creates). Logically, I don't know why they did. They (IKEA) came to Beltsville looking for support and the blessing of the community. Then they go to College Park."

Roth stressed that IKEA is active within the greater county and employs residents from many communities. "We think that becoming a part of College Park is an indication to our commitment to staying in the local community."

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