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The College of Southern Maryland is still searching for a new central campus location in either Hughesville or Charlotte Hall, but has told the five potential property sellers they are free to look elsewhere for buyers.

“It’s just not fair to hold them up any longer,” Brad Gottfried, president of the community college, said Monday.

Bids for a 20- to 25-acre property in Hughesville or Charlotte Hall were solicited in February and proposals were due by March 30.

St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) was one of the bidders.

The College of Southern Maryland is looking for am affordable location with water and sewer access, electric and Internet connections and close to a public road, Gottfried said.

Jarboe in June proposed removing a future $5.3 million public sewer project for Charlotte Hall out of county plans, and the rest of the commissioners. Sewer lines allow for greater growth and Charlotte Hall is a designated town center in the county zoning ordinance.

Jarboe is offering a 21.79-acre family property in Charlotte Hall, an old lumber yard, to the college. There are two other bidders in Charlotte Hall.

Gottfried said that once the college selects a location, the board of trustees would ask either the county commissioners for Charles or St. Mary’s counties to help fund the acquisition.

“That was not disclosed up front” when he responded to the college’s solicitation, Jarboe said Monday. He said if that purchase ever came to the commissioner table, he would abstain from the vote.

Gottfried said of Jarboe’s property, “From our point of view we treated it as any other. We were looking at the land itself and not the potential politics.”

Jarboe’s lumber yard is not actively on the market, Jarboe said. “I don’t have a for-sale sign up.”

Jarboe said in August he wouldn’t mind if the new campus went to Hughesville, which is planned for public sewer.

Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) and President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) said in August they would be happy to host a new campus in Hughesville as part of the effort to revitalize the town.

Originally there were six bidders for the new campus, but the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative withdrew its 23 acres in Hughesville.

Of the five bidders, the prices range from $50,000 an acre to $102,179 an acre, according to bid documents obtained by The Enterprise.

The Jane G. Henderson company offered 30 acres in Charlotte Hall for $1.5 million, or $50,000 an acre. The Charlotte Hall Commerce Center offered 68 acres off Route 5 for $4.5 million, or $66,176 an acre.

Jarboe offered 21.79 acres for $1,852,150 or $85,000 an acre.

The St. Charles Companies offered 20.94 acres in Waldorf for $1.8 million or $85,859 per acre. Gottfried said that location was farther away than the intended site for a new college campus.

The Hughesville Station company offered 29.36 acres in Hughesville for $3 million, or $102,179 an acre.

“We’re still considering. It’s just taking longer than I had anticipated,” Gottfried said of the college’s search for a site for a new campus.

The college at first sought 30 acres, but a smaller parcel of about 15 acres may be enough, he said.

The new central campus would not pull core programs from the campuses in La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick. It would serve as the new home of the Center for Trades and Energy Training, which is now in Waldorf, and a health education center. If there is enough space, a fine arts center and new athletic fields could be added.

jbabcock@somdnews.com