Planners view stadium plan as clogging Laurel

August 03, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

A proposed National Football League stadium in Laurel would clog roads, interfere with emergency services and keep Laurel residents captive in their homes during events, a group of Prince George's County planners argued during an Anne Arundel County hearing on the project.

"We believe this proposal, as submitted, is unworkable," said Fern Piret, planning director for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in Prince George's County.

She delivered a memo from Prince George's Fire Chief M. H. Jim Estepp, who said response times in Anne Arundel County near the stadium could triple during game traffic.

Steve Fisher, a community planner in Prince George's County, warned that fans would park illegally in private lots near the stadium and car pool from there to games to take advantage of high-occupancy vehicle parking.

But Walter Lynch, the Redskins' project manager for the stadium, dismissed the testimony as "clearly political."

He said the planners did not represent the Prince George's County Council or the county's legislative leadership. "They're representing one person -- Parris Glendening," Mr. Lynch said.

Mr. Glendening, the leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Maryland, has opposed the team's move from Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington to Laurel.

The Redskins are seeking a special exception to build the $160 million, 78,600-seat stadium east of Laurel on the boundary between Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. The team also is seeking several variances on matters such as parking and landscaping.

Mr. Lynch said the Prince George's planners did not ask the

Redskins or a pro-stadium citizens' group, Citizens for a Planned Stadium in Laurel, to participate in the task force that produced yesterday's testimony, while a member of Citizens Against the Stadium II was invited to take part.

Moreover, the task force was created shortly after after Mr. Glendening made his opposition to the stadium public, Mr. Lynch said.

He said the Redskins' studies had not shown there would be a problem with fire and rescue services, but that the team would continue to study the matter and would work with fire and police personnel in all jurisdictions involved.

Ms. Piret, who delivered the bulk of the planners' case, said the Redskins made many overly optimistic assumptions in their traffic studies, such as an occupancy rate of 3.5 persons per vehicle and the use of shuttle buses to park-and-ride lots.

"In the event any one of these assumptions fails to materialize, the already congested traffic predictions for the area would worsen," she said.

During stadium events, residents along Route 198 and U.S. 1, "will be held captive in their own homes and those driving on local cross-streets will have to endure long delays," she said."

Ms. Piret also questioned the need for the stadium.

"The construction of a major football stadium will not prove to be a catalyst for new business development in the area of the stadium," she said, adding that local businesses would lose customers on event days who might not be recaptured later.

She recommended that if Mr. Wilcox grants the special exception, he should require the Redskins to post a bond or letter of credit to pay for additional measures if their parking goals are not met.

After the hearing, Mr. Wilcox said he does not know if he has the authority to consider the effects on Prince George's County of an Anne Arundel County project.

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