Stadium: Long fight is likely

January 05, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

Members of Anne Arundel County's new Board of Appeals are bracing themselves for months of lengthy hearings to decide whether the Washington Redskins will be allowed to build a 78,600-seat stadium in Laurel.

The appeal "would have the potential to be the longest, most complicated, technical and most time-consuming case that could come before the board," said Anthony V. Lamartina, whom the County Council reappointed for a fourth term at its meeting Tuesday.

In October, Robert C. Wilcox, the county's administrative hearing officer, rejected the National Football League team's bid for zoning exceptions so that it could build the $160 million stadium, saying the 382-acre site near Laurel Race Course was too small and that the roads would not accommodate the traffic the stadium would generate.

Calling that decision a temporary setback, Mr. Cooke immediately filed an appeal. Opponents of the $160 million stadium, Russett Center Limited Partnership and Citizens Against the Stadium II, appealed Mr. Wilcox' reduction in the number of parking spaces required.

The hearings before Mr. Wilcox took 200 hours over six weeks last summer. The appeals hearings, scheduled to begin March 27, are expected to take twice as long -- 400 hours over six months.

"The size and scope of the project is the reason why it'll be different from any other brought before the board," said W. Jay Breitenbach, a Pasadena real estate appraiser and newly appointed appeals board member.

"The most important case pending before the board is the Redskins stadium," said F. George Deuringer, who was appointed for a second term. "When that case comes before the board, it will be treated like any other case. The chips will fall wherever they may fall, whoever makes the better case and follows the law."

Whatever the board decides, it is likely that the ruling will be

appealed to Circuit Court.

Since Mr. Cooke announced his stadium plan a year ago, both sides have been unrelenting. The 82-year-old multimillionaire has hired lawyers, lobbyists and experts in an attempt to prove his case. CATS II, with 200 members, has hired a lawyer for the hearings with funds raised through contributions and bake sales.

In addition to zoning and land-use cases, the appeals board hears complaints about personnel matters and other % 5/8 administrative decisions.

Each council member makes one appointment to the board. The appointment Tuesday of five new members marks the greatest turnover on the board in at least two decades. The new members were chosen from among a record 71 applicants.

Council Chairman Diane R. Evans said the large number of applicants probably stemmed from the large turnover on the council.

The new Board of Appeals members are Mr. Breitenbach, 28, a Democrat; Democrat J. Robb Cecil, 34, an Annapolis attorney; Republican Wesley W. Saunders, 61, a Crownsville developer; Democrat John G. Warner, 52, a Pasadena banker; and Republican Christopher H. Wilson, a Harwood farmer.

The incumbents are Mr. Deuringer, 58, a Severna Park Republican who is an appeals analyst with the Social Security Administration; and Mr. Lamartina, 47, a Democrat from Linthicum who is a steamship checker with the longshoremen's union.

Both Mr. Deuringer and Mr. Lamartina have served as chairman and vice chairman, and both hope to seek leadership positions on the new board.

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