Laurel opposition leaders testify against Redskins stadium

August 10, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Opponents of a proposed NFL stadium in Laurel began to make their case yesterday, presenting testimony that allowing the project to proceed would cause traffic jams, create noise and generally detract from their quality of life.

"I don't think we will live comfortably with this stadium," said Jeanne Mignon, president of Citizens Against the Stadium II. "I think our lives will change forever."

The Redskins are seeking a special exception allowing them to build a $160 million, 78,600-seat stadium in an industrial zone next to the Laurel Race Course. They also are seeking variances from Anne Arundel County codes on matters such as parking, landscaping and time limits for project completion.

Ms. Mignon complained about being left out of the decision-making process.

She specifically cited her experiences with state delegates, who she felt would not listen to her arguments against the stadium.

She also noted that as the stadium plans were being drawn up, representatives from the Redskins met weekly with members of Arundel's planning staff, but she was never invited to participate.

Redskins lawyer Harry Blumenthal, noting that Ms. Mignon is a registered lobbyist who had the opportunity to meet privately with several elected officials, disputed her claim.

"Maybe your view was not adopted, but you were part of the process," Mr. Blumenthal said. Audrey Garrett, representing the residents of Bacontown, said she "can look out my front door and see the stadium."

Bacontown residents oppose the stadium, she said, because it "threatens to change our whole way of life."

She said she worried about how stadium traffic would affect services at Mount Zion United Methodist Church on Whiskey Bottom Road, across the street from her house.

"I have a problem trying to cross Whiskey Bottom Road with the current traffic," she said. "If the stadium comes, I just can't see us having church at all."

Richard Russell, a Maryland City resident and CATS member, told Administrative Hearing Officer Robert C. Wilcox how stadium traffic would make it more difficult to have organized recreational activities, such as soccer and softball leagues, on Sundays. He also warned that traffic might clog routes used by emergency vehicles.

"With Redskins traffic, an emergency would be almost impossible to deal with," Mr. Russell said.

Mr. Wilcox, who will decide whether to grant the special exception and variances, said it is clear that stadium traffic will have some impact. But arguments that it will make life impossible do not help, he said.

"Both sides say the sky is going to fall. Both sides engage in hyperbole," he said. "I hear claims like 'We will never be able to go to church.' That's not true. . . .

"The stadium people tell me [the glow from the stadium lights is] going to be like looking at a porch light.

"There is going to be an impact. Anyone who would deny that is crazy," Mr. Wilcox said. "Somewhere in the middle is the truth. That's what we've got to flush out."

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