Redskins stadium proposal hulks over council's 4th District primary

August 23, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Looming over the race for West County's 4th District council seat is the shadow of a stadium yet to be built.

Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke's bid to put a $160 million, 78,600-seat stadium in Laurel may or may not bring economic largess that will benefit the entire county. But any impact -- from traffic, noise or pollution -- will affect West County.

Most of the Democratic field is taking a wait-and-see attitude, hesitant to make a stand for or against the proposed stadium while the decision of Administrative Hearing Officer Robert C. Wilcox is pending.

But one candidate, Odenton attorney Bill D. Burlison, a former U.S. congressman from Missouri and twice a candidate for Maryland's House of Delegates, made his opposition known early and clearly.

"I think it will result in a substantial diminution, if you will, in our quality of life in the western part of the county, not just Laurel," Mr. Burlison says. "It's bad now. And when we think of these thousands and thousands and thousands of additional vehicles, it will create a monster as far as traffic is concerned."

The cost, he said, is just too high to county taxpayers. "I'm just not at all convinced that there would be a positive economic impact. If ever, it will be a long time down the road before we compensate for our losses, our economic expenditures on infrastructure."

Two of Mr. Burlison's opponents in the Democratic primary, Norman G. Myers Sr., 56, and Robert McMurtrie, 62, say they are reserving judgment.

"In this county, there's a very capable zoning officer in Wilcox," says Mr. McMurtrie, a founder and past president of the Greater Severn Improvement Association. "I think the law is specific. I think the issue of the stadium rests with the zoning officer at this time. I would support the decision of the zoning officer because I basically think he's pretty good."

He notes that many West County residents support the stadium, although he is not sure how many and is conducting his own poll to determine the extent of such support. "It's not clear cut," he said.

But if the Redskins stadium is built, "people over there should get a tax exemption because of the inconvenience," Mr. McMurtrie says.

Mr. Myers, too, says he has found that the community is not united in opposition to the stadium. "I find a lot of support for it," says Mr. Myers, who served last year as president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association and who owns Revere Printing in Odenton. "I've also seen recently a lot of that support waning.

"So at this point, I'm not taking a stand one way or the other until I get some more information," he says.

Also running in the Democratic primary is Keith Green, 41, a Severn resident who is a car salesman in Washington.

Mr. Green says he is running because he believes the council has ignored neighborhoods like Pioneer City, where he lived for 2 1/2 years before moving his family to Severn.

"They'll tell you anything to get in office. But once they get there, you never hear from them," says Mr. Green, who is running a very low-key campaign because he works two jobs and has little free time.

His three opponents, he says, are not in touch with the problems affecting lower-income neighborhoods that are wracked by drugs and crime.

"Name me one of them who would take the time to walk through Pioneer City. I think they'd be afraid," Mr. Green says. "You have to be accessible to the public if you're going to run for public office."

Mr. Myers says Gov. William Donald Schaefer's attempt to relocate the state prison's boot camp to Tipton Army Airfield is what spurred his decision to run.

"I never wanted to get into politics. I think it was the boot camp issue that did it. I was frustrated by what a politician was forcing on West County," he says. "Each time we thought we had killed the issue, the governor just kept arbitrarily bringing it up again."

Mr. McMurtrie believes his 41 years as a West County resident makes him a candidate who knows intimately the needs and problems of the community. "I've seen this place grow from rural to a residential, business, Department of Defense community. I've seen it grow by leaps and bounds," he says.

Development, along with school crowding and solid waste management, are always hot-button issues in West County. Three of the county's four Planned Unit Developments, huge residential building projects, are in the 4th District. The county's landfill is in Millersville and a regional waste-to-energy incinerator has been proposed for a site near the National Security Agency.

Mr. Burlison advocates closing the Millersville landfill as soon as possible, and locating future solid waste facilities in other parts of the county. "I think our part of the county has carried its share of the solid waste burden for too long and we need to share that burden with other areas of the county," he insists.

"They dump on us. . . . Millersville was supposed to be our big, beautiful park. That's what we were promised," Mr. Myers says. "I'm going to push for increased recycling, and we've got to get the yard waste composted."

Mr. McMurtrie says he would like to see the county's adequate facilities ordinance more strictly enforced.

"With the growth that's taking place, I feel there are too many waivers, it's happening too fast," he says. "Believe it or not, I like the infrastructure before the building."

Mr. Burlison has raised $10,156, the most money in the race so far, but $10,000 of that is money he lent himself. Mr. Myers has taken in $4,555 and Mr. McMurtrie has raised $5,722 since last September. Mr. Green had not filed a campaign finance report as of yesterday.

Republican Bert L. Rice is running unopposed in his party's primary.

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