Saying he's determined to bring a new train station to Odenton, Councilman David G. Boschert pledged yesterday to press for delaying the approval of Town Center growth control legislation.
The Democratic councilman from Crownsville came under fire Wednesday from outraged citizens who helped develop a growth management plan for a proposed 215-acre town center. Six members of the Odenton Town Center Growth Management Committee blasted Boschert for "sabotaging" their work and "selling out" to developers.
At least five council members must approve his emergency ordinance Monday night to delay the proposed growth controls. Boschert suggested waiting six months to resolve disputed sections of the plan after three developers and a businessman on the advisory committee objected strenuously to the restrictions.
Charging that the controls would prohibit building a profitable, innovative center with apartments, offices, shopping and cinemas, Halle Enterprises, the leading developer, threatened to withdraw its offer to provide land for a MARC train station.
"We had to look at the cost," said Betsie Russell, land acquisition director for the Montgomery County company that owns 40 percent of the proposed center. "It [the plan] reduced the ratio of what we could potentially build by 50 percent. So it just doesn't seem cost-effective to then donate land for the train station and ramps, along with all the other road improvements."
Since 15,000 new homes are planned for the booming Odenton area, Boschert said a new train station is crucial to avoid serious traffic snarls on already heavily traveled roads. He asked state transportation officials at a briefing Thursday to consider opening a Park and Ride in Odenton and to budget money for a MARC station.
Boschert has spent the past days emphasizing the need for a train station and urging fellow lawmakers to support the moratorium. Although Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, said she still expects the original growth control bill to pass, she predicted a more narrow margin.
"I heard he has four votes sewn up now," Lamb said about Boschert's effort. She said she intends to vote for the growth restrictions "to get something in by this council before the session ends."
Only one councilman, Michael Gilligan, D-Glen Burnie, has publicly backed Boschert's moratorium. Gilligan said he sees no reason to rush the measures into place after waiting 20 years.
While Boschert lobbies to postpone the Town Center plan, Halle representatives are waging their own public relations campaign.
Russell joined a whistle-stop Democratic unity tour led by Gov. William Donald Schaefer through North County on Wednesday and attended a fund-raiser for Sen. Philip C. Jimeno that night.
Between meeting friends and shaking hands, she said, she greeted Schaefer together with Boschert and Gilligan and requested the governor's support.
"We talked about the issue and what he could do to help," she said. "He spoke to the council members and agreed to call others on the bill."
Schaefer could not be reached for comment. But his executive assistant, Joel Lee, said he doubted that the governor would intervene in a local legislative battle.
"I can't believe that the governor is going to lobby the County Council on this bill," he said.
Russell also defended placing a full-page, $2,343 ad in Wednesday's Maryland Gazette as an attempt to "reach people in Odenton and give them the facts."
The top section showed a map of the town center, while the headline said: "The West County Chamber of Commerce supports Governor William Donald Schaefer and Councilman David Boschert." Warning that the growth management bill "jeopardizes construction of a proposed interchange at . . . Route 32," the ad urged Odenton residents to "support a moratorium" and petition the council to vote against the bill.
"It was a one-day thing so the citizens of Odenton can take a look at the map and see what we're talking about," she said.
Russell planned to take her message Thursday night to residents of Seven Oaks, a 4,700-home development under construction on 590 acres between routes 175 and 32.
Both Russell and Boschert complained that the Advisory Committee, under pressure from a 45-day deadline, failed to resolve sections of the bill regulating green space and wetlands.
"The bottom line is we need more time," Boschert said.
County Executive O. James Lighthizer disagreed. The outgoing executive said he set the deadline when he appointed the committee because 80 percent of the bill was lifted from a similar measure regulating growth in Parole.