Laurel stadium parking cut defended

May 24, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

The chief planner in Anne Arundel County yesterday said his decision to cut by 10,000 the number of parking spaces needed for the proposed Redskins stadium in Laurel does not violate county law.

Stadium critics have denounced Robert Dvorak's decision, saying he did not require the Redskins to set aside enough land for additional parking when he made the decision.

Mr. Dvorak, director of planning and code enforcement, defended his decision and said similar decisions have been made on other development projects in the county.

"I don't think it was excessive," he said, "and I do think it's in compliance with the law."

County law requires one parking space for every two seats, or 39,300 spaces for the proposed 78,600-seat stadium.

The law also allows a credit of up to 25 percent if the day-to-day operations do not require a full complement of parking spaces and if "an adequate reserved land area is provided to accommodate a full complement of parking when necessary."

Under this provision, Mr. Dvorak granted a credit April 21, reducing the number of spaces required to 29,475.

Similar but smaller parking credits have been granted to the Annapolis Harbour Center, the Chartwell Country Club, Festival at Riva, and Annapolis Fashion Festival, he said.

He also said his staff spent days reviewing an inch-thick Redskins' report that sought to justify why the parking requirement should be reduced. The report was submitted April 13.

"[The decision] wasn't just pulled out of our ear in one day, like everybody's saying," he said.

Thomas Dernoga, a lawyer representing Citizens Against the Stadium II, wasn't swayed by Mr. Dvorak's statements.

"I don't buy into his excuse that he looked at it and considered it adequate," he said.

He also said the group is asking Mr. Dvorak to reconsider the decision. The county should require the Redskins to document adequate available parking, and the public should be allowed to comment, said Mr. Dernoga.

Mr. Dvorak said the Redskins have several available options for increasing their parking areas, including creating parking spaces inside the Laurel race track oval, building underground parking at the stadium, constructing parking decks or leasing nearby state-owned or privately owned parking lots on game days.

None of those options appear on the stadium's site plan, said Jeanne Mignon, president of CATS II. She also said Mr. Dvorak's decision to grant the parking reduction creates the appearance that he supports the stadium.

The Redskins want to cut the number of parking spaces to 20,077. A state report issued earlier in the year estimated the Redskins would need 23,000 to 25,000 spaces.

"I'm the highest figure of anybody's figure, no matter how you calculate it," said Mr. Dvorak. "Even with the credit, I'm telling them they must provide 29,475 spaces."

Mr. Dernoga said the Redskins must argue for a parking variance in addition to the credit granted by Mr. Dvorak. Still, he said, the credit gives the Redskins a better bargaining position with the county, because the starting point for negotiation is now 29,000 spaces instead of 39,000.

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