Millersville site favored for jail County Council has final decision

October 29, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

An advisory committee voted last night to recommend that the county's new 650-bed detention center be built in Millersville, adjacent to the police and fire headquarters.

The committee, which has been meeting since August, chose the site over other locations in Crownsville, Davidsonville and Pasadena.

The siting panel will send its recommendation in a written report to the County Council by tomorrow. The council will make the final decision.

Earlier this month, the committee rejected an 85-acre tract of land on New Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie, the site favored by County Executive Robert R. Neall and originally approved by county officials. The site was rejected after the committee reviewed a soil test done for the Coca-Cola Co. several years ago that showed higher than normal levels of carcinogens.

The Millersville property, which is presently being farmed, is located in the district of County Councilwoman Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, who resigned from the committee two weeks ago. At fTC that time, Ms. Evans said the task force had strayed from its mission of finding a new location for the jail and was spending too much time discussing sentencing alternatives. She did not attend last night's meeting.

In choosing the Millersville site, the committee cited the fact that the owners of the property, the Pumphrey and Darley families, were willing to sell to the county. The owners of the properties in Pasadena and Crownsville told the committee they did not want to sell, which would have meant expensive condemnation procedures.

In addition, the Millersville site is close to Interstate 97 and is well-situated between the district courts in Glen Burnie and Annapolis.

Problems with the site include the fact that it is bisected by wetlands, reducing the usable acreage, and that 1,100 homes are located within a half-mile.

Before the meeting, the committee rated each of the four sites numerically, based on geography, site quality and community support or opposition. The property in Crownsville was ranked first, which displeased the 35 residents who crowded the small conference room in the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

The Millersville site was ranked second, the Pasadena site third, and the Davidsonville property, which faced insurmountable sewage problems, was a distant fourth.

But the rankings changed after the committee heard from a lawyer representing the Darley and Pumphrey families.

The lawyer, William Chaires, said that for years the families had been fighting a proposed East-West Highway, which would cut through their property, and now accepted that both the road and the jail would be built, no matter what they did.

"They're tired of fighting," Mr. Chaires said.

With that information, the ratings were recalculated, and the Millersville property was ranked first. The committee voted unanimously to recommend it.

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