Substation expansion gets green light ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY--Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

April 13, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Annapolis lawmakers made clear last night that they want to limit electromagnetic emissions as they reluctantly voted to allow the controversial expansion of the Tyler Avenue substation.

The City Council approved a series of stringent conditions that require Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. to monitor and contain the electromagnetic fields created by the power lines.

Tyler Heights residents urged the council to "just say no" to the expansion. They argued that the conditions were meaningless because they're next to impossible to enforce.

"We believe to require conditions is moot," said John G. Rice, one of the neighbors of the substation who has fought the expansion for two years.

But Alderman Ellen Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat, said the city should take aggressive steps to minimize the impact of the expansion. "I have to say it perplexes me why we would just do nothing," she said.

The council voted 7-1 to require the utility to install underground power lines as well as to monitor the electromagnetic emissions to make sure they don't exceed current levels. Also in a move to ease residents' fear, the council will ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to send a letter stating that there is no relationship between electromagnetic fields and a higher rate of cancer.

Alderman Carl Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, pointed out that the EPA was not likely to send such a letter because there are conflicting scientific studies on the emissions. He was the lone alderman to vote against the expansion.

Two years ago, the council rejected the planned $2.5 million expansion because of the community's concerns over reports linking the emissions to an increased risk of cancer. BG&E sued to reverse the decision and won.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams called the council's decision "arbitrary" and ordered the city last fall to grant the utility a permit to expand the substation.

BG&E needs to upgrade the power station to keep up with the increased demand for electricity on the rapidly developing Annapolis Neck peninsula.

On March 8, the council approved the expansion, but then reversed it self two weeks later after the city attorney ruled that the first vote was improper.

Alderman Wayne Turner, a Republican whose 6th Ward includes Tyler Heights, denounced the March 8 approval and said the city should have appealed the court ruling. Mr. Turner was absent last night because he was ill.

The action came one night after most of the city was plunged into darkness when a raccoon crawled into the Cedar Avenue substation and tripped the power line.

Some 11,500 homes had no power between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday.

Last night, the council also:

* Approved the transfer of leftover funds from last year's public works projects to improve neighborhood parks. Mr. Snowden asked the city to look into hiring more female and minority contractors for such work.

* Introduced a resolution to establish a recycling program for newspapers, tin and plastics, which are currently excluded from curbside recycling.

* Introduced a resolution to prohibit neon signs in the historic downtown.

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