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Week in review: 12/16/11

More apartments for Fells Point

Ground was formally broken Tuesday on Union Wharf, a 281-unit luxury apartment mixed-use complex in Fells Point in Baltimore. The property had been sold by developer Larry Silverstein to the Bozzuto Group this fall for $9.5 million. For a decade Silverstein had planned to build Class A office space and apartments on the site, which once was a concrete plant.

UM compromise reached

A plan to enhance collaboration between the state’s flagship university at College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, instead of merging them, will aid the institutions in commercializing research discoveries and boost the clout of both schools, top educators said.

Turner gets lab contract

State officials have awarded a $170 million contract to Turner Construction Co. to build a lab for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at the 88-acre East Baltimore Development Inc. site in Middle East. Construction is expected to begin next month.

Baltimore evicts protesters

Occupy Baltimore demonstrators who spent 10 weeks protesting economic disparity were removed peacefully from a downtown plaza near the Inner Harbor during a predawn raid by police Tuesday. No arrests were made. The protesters were taken to a city shelter and their belongings returned to them. One said that protesters would move into vacant houses throughout Baltimore.

Md. land-use plan advances

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration will move forward with Maryland’s first statewide land-use plan despite calls from opponents on Monday to slow or scrap the process. Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, R-Upper Shore, said he wants PlanMaryland to be submitted as a bill to the General Assembly.

Jailing of witness criticized

The Court of Special Appeals has criticized Baltimore prosecutors and a judge for ignoring rules designed to protect reluctant witnesses who are jailed to make sure they appear for trial. Roslyn Broadway was jailed without the state’s attorney’s office attempting to serve her with a subpoena.

Pension system earned 20%

The Maryland pension system earned 20 percent on its investments in fiscal 2011, up from 14 percent in 2010 and giving it $37.6 billion in assets. But the system did not perform as well as most large pensions around the company, according to the Department of Legislative Services.

State Center court fight

A group of downtown Baltimore property owners sparred with the state Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court, with attorneys for both sides assailing the other’s lawsuit over the State Center project as a “sham.” Judge Althea M. Handy did not say when she would rule on whether to dismiss a Department of General Services countersuit seeking damages from the property owners for suing to stop the project.

Pay hike kicks in quietly

The Baltimore Board of Estimates noted no objections Wednesday to an automatic 2.5 percent cost-of-living pay adjustment for elected city officials, including the mayor, City Council members and the comptroller.

Fracking panel backs plan

The Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission supports a change in state law that would make it easier for landowners to bring claims against drillers regarding water contamination and other damages near hydraulic fracturing sites.