Homeowners protest plan to build football stadium

January 13, 1994|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,Staff Writer

Residents of Laurel Highlands could become "prisoners in our own development" if Jack Kent Cooke builds a 78,600-seat stadium for the Washington Redskins a few hundred yards from their doors, a member of the local homeowners association board warned yesterday.

"It's not a matter of miles, but of feet" from the site of the proposed stadium to the townhouse community off Whiskey Bottom Road, board member Clare Warnagiris said.

Laurel Highlands Homeowners Association members plan today to deliver to one of Mr. Cooke's aides a brief letter detailing their objections to the $160 million stadium being built in their back yard.

Chad Mendelsohn, who serves on the association's five-member board of directors, said the letter was drafted Monday and will be hand-delivered to Terry St. Marie, Mr. Cooke's vice president, or an aide at the Redskins office on Prince Georges Avenue in Laurel.

"We drafted the letter to express the community's concerns and our reasons for not wanting the stadium right next to our community," Mr. Mendelsohn said.

"I moved to the community a little over one year ago with my wife and two children because it was so isolated and quiet. I feel it will all disappear shortly," he said.

The group's biggest concern is the potential for game-day traffic jams.

Members also worried that:

* Stadium patrons would park on neighborhood streets and linger in the community;

* Children would be exposed to public drinking and urinating at tailgate parties; and

* The community would develop an "obnoxious glow" from the stadium lights.

"We are close enough that we have almost mandatory participation in everything that goes on at the stadium," Mr. Mendelsohn said. "It is in our best interest to let Mr. Cooke know that our property values will decrease and our quality of life will diminish."

Ray Smallwood, president of the Maryland City Civic Association and an opponent to the stadium, said he doubts the letter would change Mr. Cooke's plans.

"It must be in the form of a paper plane and thrown at Mr. Cooke for it to do him any harm," said Mr. Smallwood, who was named the Redskins' management co-chairman of a citizen advisory committee to help team officials communicate with local residents.

Although he questioned the effectiveness of a letter, he said it is a step in the right direction. "Anything we can do from all corners of this globe to stop this stadium is welcomed."

Ms. Warnagiris said she agrees that the letter will not be effective, but expects that it will help opponents articulate their concerns.

"We are a booming community of families with woodlands and deer," she said. "This is a nice community, but our lifestyles will be totally disrupted."

Laura Waters, president of the association, said the group is polling residents to see if they want to meet with Walter Lynch, Mr. Cooke's project manager. Mr. Lynch already has agreed to the tentative date of Feb. 14.

"It's very important to have a dialogue even if the parties are diametrically opposed as we are in regards to the stadium," Ms. Waters said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.