Stadium too big for Laurel, expert says

August 13, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

A planning expert yesterday assailed the idea of the Redskins building a football stadium in Laurel, saying the stadium would be too large for the site and would not meet county requirements for a special exception.

The proposed 78,600-seat stadium also would be more offensive than other uses permitted in an industrial zone, said Diana Mendes, a planner hired by Russett Center Ltd. Partnership, a group of developers opposing the project.

"It's going to be the dominant thing in the landscape," she said, adding that it is "wildly different" from surrounding development.

The stadium would generate more traffic, noise, light and weekend disturbance than other uses, such as an industrial park, she said.

Other uses also would not require massive buildings, expansive parking lots, regional road improvements or county funding for infrastructure, she said.

Stadium traffic would interfere with the area's orderly development, she said. Unlike several other suburban National Football League stadiums, she said, the Redskins' site is too far from highways and would draw traffic through local roads.

Harry Blumenthal, a lawyer for the Redskins, said the proposed stadium meets county codes regarding distance to major highways.

The public hearing on the special exception to allow the $160 million stadium to be built is entering its sixth week at Meade Senior High School. The Redskins are also seeking several variances from county codes on matters such as landscaping and parking.

The Redskins would not qualify for the special exception if Administrative Hearing Officer Robert C. Wilcox accepts Ms. Mendes' arguments.

To win a special exception, a project cannot jeopardize public health, safety and welfare or the orderly development of a district. It also must not be more offensive than other permitted uses.

Ms. Mendes also said the stadium would interfere with any future redevelopment of the Laurel Race Course, and the proposed landscaping would not create the "park-like" ambience the county code requires for industrial developments, she said.

"The site is too small to accommodate the facilities that are proposed here," she said. The fact that the stadium would straddle Brock Bridge Road proves this, she said.

That is "a nonsense issue," Mr. Blumenthal said after the hearing. "We move roads all the time."

He said he was "delighted" with the day's testimony because there had been no surprises.

He also said the stadium wouldn't be the most offensive use of the sight. A large warehouse with 18-wheelers rolling in and out 24 hours a day would be more offensive, he said.

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