Redskins planners ask delay in stables hearing

July 14, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

North Laurel residents were both disappointed and delighted yesterday to hear that the Zoning Board had been asked to postpone last night's hearing on moving stables for 1,000 horses into Howard County in connection with the planned 78,600-seat Redskins football stadium in Laurel.

"First, I felt kind of mad, because I thought that if they had the hearing today, we were going to get the zoning board to go our way," said Donna Thewes, a North Laurel Park resident and member of the North Laurel Civic Association.

Ms. Thewes spent the day putting up signs saying the hearing was canceled. Just days ago residents passed out fliers asking people to attend the hearing.

"I also felt happy because I think it shows the Redskins are meeting a lot more opposition than they expected," Ms. Thewes said. "They're on the run, basically."

In a letter to the Zoning Board, attorney Robert H. Levan, who was handling the case for Laurel Racing Association Limited Partnership, asked that the hearing be postponed.

The decision would effectively delay the hearing until next year, said Paul R. Farragut, the Zoning Board chairman. The board, made up of County Council members, cannot hear or decide cases between the Sept. 13 primary and December, when the new members take office. The board had set Aug. 1 as the last date it would schedule cases.

Mr. Levan's letter noted that the stadium's special exception case in Anne Arundel County, which is now being heard, involves several options, including one to turn the current stable location into a parking area.

"The resolution of these options may bear on our position before the Howard County board," he wrote. "As a result, we believe that consideration of the Howard County petition is premature."

The hearing had already been in danger of postponement.

Shane Pendergrass, a Democrat, had objected to what she considered hasty scheduling of a case that would need several nights to hear.

C. Vernon Gray, a Democrat who represents east Columbia, said he would not vote on the rezoning to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. His opponent in the Democratic primary, Kathryn Mann, raised the issue of an $8,000 debt Mr. Gray's campaign committee owed Laurel Race Course for a 1989 fund-raiser.

Tom Flynn, vice president of the North Laurel Civic Association, said he thought the delay might be the result of unexpected problems the planned move to Howard County has encountered.

He said he called a county Health Department official who told him the department wasn't aware that the rezoning involved stables for 1,000 horses that generate 25 tons of manure a day when it signed off on the petition.

Although health department officials could not be reached yesterday, Joseph W. Rutter Jr., county planning and zoning director, confirmed that the Health Department reassessed the rezoning plan last week.

He said the new comments on the plan voice no objection, but add that the proposed location of the stables is closer to the nearby Midway Mobile Home Park than health regulations allow.

The regulations require that residential buildings be at least 300 feet from large buildings housing animals. This means the stables would require a variance from the Health Department, Mr. Rutter said.

The Redskins' attorney, Harry Blumenthal, said approval of the stadium does not rest on whether Howard County approves the stables. Redskins planners have an alternative plan that keeps the stables in their current location, he said.

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