House votes to shift $1.2 million toward new jail

April 08, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The House of Delegates yesterday passed a capital bond bill that includes shifting $1.2 million in leftover state money to help county officials plan the Detention Center annex in Glen Burnie.

The 135-2 vote basically assures that County Executive Robert R. Neall will be able to develop blueprints for a new jail on an 85-acre tract of county-owned land in Glen Burnie. The County Council approved the site last month.

The $1.2 million is left over from an 1990 bond bill that paid for expansion of the jail on Jennifer Road near Annapolis. The county must match the money.

Although the House version added some conditions to the legislation, the three North County opponents of the jail -- District 31 delegates Joan Cadden, W. Ray Huff and Charles W. "Stokes" Kolodziejski -- did not get everything they sought earlier in the week.

The lawmakers had lobbied the Appropriations Committee's capital budget subcommittee to amend the bill and tie the release of the planning money to completion of a study that proves the county needs a new jail and shows what kind of facility would be built.

The amendment passed by the Appropriations Committee requires the county to submit a report to the General Assembly's budget committees outlining what alternatives it uses to avoid putting people in jail -- such as home detention or drug treatment. It also requires the county to outline its plans to expand such programs and how that would reduce the need for more jail capacity.

But that study will be part of the planning process, rather than a requirement for the release of planning money, as the delegates had hoped.

On the other hand, the delegates were able to persuade the subcommittee to remove any reference to the Ordnance Road site from the money transfer. Instead, it provides the money "for a new Anne Arundel County Detention Center annex at a site selected by the governing body of Anne Arundel County."

The North County legislators hope that will leave the door open to reconsidering the site after a new county executive and County Council take office in December.

"It doesn't say where," Mr. Huff said before the vote. "The annex can be there [at Ordnance Road] or anywhere."

Subcommittee members rejected language that would have blocked construction money if questions remain about whether the deed to the Ordnance Road land permits only commercial use.

Both the House and Senate versions prohibit the approval of any construction money until patches of soil contaminated with radioactive thorium are removed from the Ordnance Road property and it receives a clean bill of health from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation will be resolved by a conference committee.

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