Proposal to move stables spurs protest

March 18, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

Plans to move the Laurel Race Track stables to Howard County to pave the way for construction of a stadium for the Washington Redskins has angered residents in a mobile home park next to the proposed site.

"I don't like it," said Harold G. Campbell, who has lived in the Midway Mobile Home Park off U.S. 1 in North Laurel for 10 years. "I sure didn't know they were going to move those stinky stables over here."

The Redskins plan to build a 78,600-seat stadium, costing $160 million, on the north end of the raceway at Brockbridge Road. The land the stadium would be built on includes the present site of the 1,000-horse stables in Anne Arundel County. The plan requires that the stables be relocated.

Also included in the proposal is a plan for 2,000 parking spaces for the stadium on a 70-acre parcel in Howard County owned by the track and being eyed as the new site for the stables.

Hedy S. Way, treasurer for the Howard County Mobile Home Association, who also lives in the Midway Mobile home park, said she plans to discuss the issue with members of the association at its meeting next Thursday.

"We've put up with the people parking, but we've never been that close to the animals, the foul odor," said Ms. Way, a 20-year Midway Mobile Home Park resident who now has decided to move and soon will go to settlement on a new home.

"We just wanted to get out of this area because of the Redskins," she said.

Although some sites in Anne Arundel County have been considered, Walter Lynch, the Redskins stadium project manager, said the Howard County site -- now the popular free parking area for the track -- is the prime location.

If the 70 acres of Howard County land are not used for stables, they will likely be used for more of the 23,000 parking spaces the Redskins plan to create, Mr. Lynch said.

"It'll increase [Howard County's] tax base," Mr. Lynch said of stables in Howard County. "And we're going to put a buffer between the trailer park and the stables. It'll be a lot nicer than it is now."

Right now, only a metal fence separates some of the mobile home park's trailers from the track's property.

The proposal to move the stables is far from a done deal, however. Moving the stables to Howard County would require zoning approval, through a zoning map amendment or a special exception, because the land's use would go from simply parking to buildings.

No formal plans have been submitted to the county Department of Planning and Zoning yet, according to Joseph W. Rutter Jr., the department's director.

Redskins and track officials said they plan to meet during the next few weeks to draft specific plans for the new stables. The stables likely would resemble the stables now in Anne Arundel, built within the last five years or so.

Those stables are housed inside cinder block barns with concrete floors, each with as many as 40 separate 14-foot by 14-foot stables. The older barns mostly have wooden frames and dirt floors and vary in size.

In addition to the barns, the Howard County parcel also would contain the veterinary offices, which are oversized mobile home units; the single-story administrative offices; and a track kitchen, which resembles a high school cafeteria.

"We're really at the point now where we're just starting to sit down with the engineers and consultants to see how this would be done," said Tim Capps, vice president of communications for the track. "There have been a lot of people looking at the project."

Mostly likely, there would be a total of 25 new barns with about 40 stables each, dispersed throughout the track's land in Howard County, Mr. Capps said.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker said the Redskins have not asked the county for any money to fund any part of the stadium project, including the stables.

"We have to minimize the negative effect on Howard County," Mr. Ecker said. "There will be some traffic concerns. . . . I think [the barns] may be good because there will be less parking and less traffic as far as Howard County is concerned."

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