Midway residents view proposed stables as an encroachment

May 13, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

John Walton soon could have new neighbors, and they're neighbors he'd prefer to do without: a compound of stables for the horses at nearby Laurel Race Course.

"We smell it every morning," Mr. Walton said of the stable area, which is several hundred yards from his back yard in the Midway Mobile Home Park off U.S. 1 in Laurel.

Those stables would be moved to a location about 150 feet from Mr. Walton's yard under a proposal by the track's owners, part of the plan for a new, 78,600-seat Redskins football stadium in Laurel.

And the idea of being even closer to the stables has some residents of the mobile home park upset.

"It smells as it is," says Elizabeth Coit, who lives two mobile homes from Mr. Walton. "I'm sure it's going to smell worse."

The group that owns the track formally asked Howard County last week for a zoning change that would let it move the stables from Anne Arundel County to a 71-acre parcel in Howard County.

The county planning board will meet on the issue June 9, and the Zoning Board will conduct a public hearing July 13.

The Redskins plan to build most of the stadium's 23,000 parking LTC spaces in Anne Arundel County, off Brockbridge Road. But to make space for the stadium, some of the track's facilities would have to be relocated.

The plan calls for the construction of 25 barns that would each house 40 14-by-14-foot stables.

To make that possible, the Laurel Racing Association Limited Partnership has asked Howard County to create a zoning category that would allow stadium parking, horse stables, barns, maintenance buildings and other structures associated with a sports complex.

Howard has no regulations for such land use, but the County Council, acting as the Zoning Board, could create them.

"It's complicated, but so far, we've had positive reactions," said Walter Lynch, the Redskins stadium project manager.

"It's the best option; it's not the only option, though," he said.

The Howard County parcel that would provide space for the new stables is a parking lot behind Mr. Walton's back yard. The yard has a view of the track's grandstand and the existing stables.

"We don't like it," said Mr. Walton, who added that the track's proximity already bothers residents of the mobile home park.

Since Mr. Walton moved into the Midway Mobile Home Park three years ago, he has seen fights in the parking lot behind his house, heard crowds cheering when their favorite horse wins and smelled the odor from the nearby stables.

To ease the mobile home owners' concerns, the county has asked the track to create a 150-foot buffer between the stables and the mobile homes, Mr. Lynch said. Manure and trash removal will take place each day to reduce the smell, Mr. Lynch said.

"They do smell [the manure] right now because it just sits there," Mr. Lynch said. "Bedding and manure would be removed daily. It's just a cleaner plan."

Though he remains opposed to the project, Mr. Walton said that he and his neighbors doubt they can do anything to stop it.

"Even if all the people got together, I don't think they're going to listen to the people," he said.

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