Bandits weigh site for arena AHL team considers Halethorpe-area tract

September 26, 1996|By FROM STAFF REPORTS Sun staff writers Larry Carson and Phil Jackman contributed to this article.

The AHL Bandits have looked at different sites around the area for the purpose of eventually constructing an arena, and among them is a 33-acre tract near the Beltway and Washington Boulevard in Baltimore County.

Leroy Merritt, a developer who owns the land, said he met team owner Mike Caggiano on Tuesday, but, "We haven't signed a contract yet." He added: "We're close, pretty close" about a potential deal for the land, an assessment Caggiano said is "premature."

"It's premature until a contract is signed and there's lots of uncertainty at this point. That's why we've been low-key about the places we've looked at, because, in this case, there's still discussions to be held. Then we want to get feedback from the communities involved," Caggiano said.

The industrially zoned land, now being used for a golf driving range, is part of a larger parcel once discussed as a possible site of a baseball stadium before the downtown Camden Yards site was chosen for the Orioles. It is west of Washington Boulevard, inside the Beltway, off Commerce Drive.

Baltimore County councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat who represents the area, said he would look favorably on the idea as long as increased traffic didn't affect residential neighborhoods located at least a half-mile away in Halethorpe.

But, he said, "That is only the beginning of the concerns we'd have. Before we can announce a deal, we would want political and community support. In addition to the impact on the area, the price, terms and other things have to be nailed down."

Moxley said a sale, if completed, "would be an excellent opportunity for the area for the revenue it would generate and part-time jobs. Also, if it becomes a reality, the facility could perhaps be used for community recreational purposes."

Donald Hawkins, president of the Halethorpe Community Association, the area closest to the parcel, said, "Right off the bat, I don't think there would be a problem [with the deal]."

Besides traffic, Moxley said, another problem could be zoning. Since there are no professional sports venues in Baltimore County, county zoning laws don't provide for any. It's not certain how the zoning codes would apply.

Merritt said he was worried that if word of a proposed sale got out prematurely, it might not happen.

Caggiano said: "He's got that right, because there is still uncertainty and we'll still have to meet with community leaders."

Pub Date: 9/26/96

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