Safety Project Delayed

Annapolis '91

April 03, 1991

ANNAPOLIS — Construction of the Public Safety Training Center, a facility planned for Sykesville, will be delayed to help resolve the state's currentbudget deficit.

The 1991 budget balancing act approved Monday by the Legislature includes a $13 million transfer from the center's specially created fund to the general treasury.

The facility would be a training center for state and local police officers and prison personnel.

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ELLIOTT REJECTS FOREST BILL

ANNAPOLIS -- Delegate Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, voted in committee against a bill that would require developersto replace trees they cut down for construction and plant trees on some sites that weren't initially forested.

The forest conservation bill, sponsored by the Schaefer administration, passed the House Environmental Matters Committee last week by a 19-4 vote. Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, voted for the bill.

The bill was an amended version of the one that passed the Senate and will be considered by the full House this week. It is intended to prevent anet loss of forest in Maryland by retaining existing forests and creating new ones in areas that have previously been vacant or deforested by past land-use practices.

Elliott said he is concerned the bill would "take away property rights of people" who want to develop land. He said that such programs should be left to regional governments to develop, rather than imposed by the state. He added that the tree planting requirements could be cost-prohibitive to developers and could drive up the price of housing.

LaMotte said the legislature hasthe responsibility to protect the environment.

The Maryland Office of Planning reports that the state has lost about 71,000 acres of forest in the last five years, about half the amount of land that has been developed during that same period.

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

DOT TAXESOPPOSED

ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll's two senators voted against proposed motor vehicle registration and drivers license fee increases that could generate an estimated $42 million next year.

The increases would allow the state Department of Transportation to retain some federal aid and proceed with planned road construction projects.

The measure passed the Senate, 26-21, and now moves to the House, where itsfate is uncertain. The Senate refused to included a 5 percent increase in the gas tax proposed by the governor.

DOT officials say the agency has a $600 million deficit in its five-year capital program. No money is available for new road construction in fiscal 1992 unless the Legislature approves some revenue raising measures, they say.

DOT outlined last week $18.8 million in Carroll road expansion and maintenance projects that are among the $1.2 billion in projects that could be put on hold.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, said he believed DOT's projections were overly grim. Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, also voted against the measure.

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

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