Redskins' last-minute proposal sends hearing into overtime

August 20, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

In the final hours of the six-week hearing on an NFL stadium in Laurel, the Redskins proposed what they said would be a "fail-safe" way to prevent fans from parking illegally in nearby neighborhoods.

They suggested requiring fans to present an entry pass, similar to an airplane boarding pass, with a game ticket to get into the stadium. Passes would only be given to fans who came to the stadium by bus or MARC train or to those who parked legally in the stadium lots.

Lawyers for stadium opponents objected to the late introduction of the plan, but Administrative Hearing Officer Robert C. Wilcox responded: "Give the hearing officer some credit for knowing what is going on."

He said that the 11th-hour proposal showed "this plan evolves on a daily basis," and ruled that stadium opponents could submit written comments on the entry pass plan next week, even though the hearing was to conclude yesterday.

The Redskins are asking for a special exception allowing them to build a $160 million, 78,600-seat National Football League stadium in an industrial zone, next to the Laurel Race Course.

Kevin Dooley, an Anne Arundel County zoning analyst handling the Redskins' application, said that yesterday marked the first time he had seen the entry pass proposal, and that he could not comment on it.

Richard Talkin, a lawyer representing Russett Center Ltd. Partnership, developers of a nearby neighborhood who oppose the stadium, said people could still cheat the system by car pooling to the stadium from nearby neighborhoods.

He predicted a black market in entry passes would develop near the site.

Under cross-examination, Redskins parking expert Martin Wells conceded that the pass program would prevent anyone from traveling to games by taxi or being dropped off at the gate by a friend.

Stadium opponent Ray Smallwood, president of the Maryland City Civic Association, labeled the entry pass proposal "a crock."

"If they want to keep them out of our neighborhoods, build larger lots," he said. "That's all they have to do."

Earlier in the day, a parade of expert witnesses attempted to rebut opponents' arguments on matters such as light, noise, traffic and the compatibility of the stadium with nearby neighborhoods.

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