Howard quits Tipton Airport project, for now County could become part of new authority later

February 13, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Howard County will not be included -- for now -- in legislation to create an authority that would run Tipton Airport.

The bill will name only Anne Arundel County.

However, officials from both counties said they still are working together, and Howard County could get back into the act after legislation is submitted to the General Assembly this session.

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker and Howard representatives on the Tipton Advisory Committee, which is overseeing plans to turn the dormant military airfield at Fort Meade into a general aviation airport, lobbied Anne Arundel County in December to be included in draft legislation. Anne Arundel officials agreed at the time.

However, since then, on the advice of county lawyers, Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary has decided it would be better to exclude Howard County, said Sam Minnitte, Gary's chief of staff and Tipton project manager.

Ecker expressed concern last year about taking on liability for environmental problems at the 310-acre airport. Tipton, south of Route 32 near Route 198, is a former artillery training area that is the last Fort Meade parcel available to be turned over for civilian use in the 1988 Base Realignment and Closure Act. Anne Arundel has not yet signed a lease with the Army to occupy some buildings, and areas cleared of ordnance.

If Howard decides to be a full partner, it can be added to the legislation and included in the authority. But it would be harder to change the legislation if Howard was included and then backed out, Minnitte told the advisory committee yesterday.

Howard Planning and Zoning Director Joseph Rutter agreed.

"We would be in a bind if we were both in the enabling legislation," and Howard County wanted to pull out, he said. "It's still very much a spirit of cooperation."

Pub Date: 2/13/97

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