Lawsuit could cost Annapolis $32 million Snowden wants city to rethink bridge lawsuit.

September 13, 1991|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff

The city of Annapolis could lose $32 million, nearly all of its current operating budget, if it files an injunction and sues the state to block construction of the controversial Severn River replacement bridge, says Alderman Carl O. Snowden.

After consulting with several attorneys well-versed in federal law, Snowden said yesterday that he will ask his fellow members of the Annapolis City Council to reconsider filing the injunction as well as a suit against the state.

"I've talked to several attorneys and they've convinced me that we [the council] need to reconsider a reversal of our original decision," Snowden said.

He said that, according to the attorneys, federal rules require that costs and damages incurred by the state as a result of an injunction be held against the city.

"The state says it stands to lose $32 million in federal money," he said. "Now assuming that's true, theoretically a judge could rule that thecity would have to put up a security bond of $32 million. The city's operating budget is only $33 million."

Thus, Snowden said, he is not in favor in straining the city's

budget any more than it already has been strained by the recession.

Snowden, who voted in favor of Annapolis suing the state, said he did so at the request of community activists and not because he believed the city has a chance of winning the lawsuit. However, he said he felt it was important for people to have a forum to voice their opposition.

The council voted 7-2 Monday to challenge the state's plan for constructing a new bridge to replace the aging Md. 450 drawbridge.

Wednesday, Citizens for the Scenic Severn River Bridge Inc. filed suit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore seeking to block the state's plans to build an 80-foot-high span to replace the existing low drawbridge.

Opponents contend that the new bridge would destroy both the aesthetics of the Annapolis historic district and the surrounding environment, including the adjacent Jonas Green Park and Pendennis Shrub Swamp, which teems with wildlife.

While neither an injunction nor a suit has been filed, Snowden said he will ask the council to reconsider its decision at its next meeting, Sept. 23.

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