Zoning panel postpones hearing on village Newspaper fails to run advertisement of meeting

September 16, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Zoning Board has been forced to postpone the Sept. 24 start of a series of hearings on a Columbia-style village in North Laurel because The Sun failed to run an advertised notice of the hearings.

The paid advertisement ordered by Howard Research & Development -- the development arm of the Rouse Co. which is proposing the controversial mixed-use project -- did not run in the Aug. 17 edition of the newspaper as scheduled.

The omission was not discovered until last week, forcing the board to delay hearings until Oct. 22.

County zoning codes require a public notice in two local %J newspapers at least one month in advance of an initial hearing.

"Through a system default, the ad was inadvertently omitted," said Marcia Goldman, a spokeswoman for The Sun. "We truly regret any inconvenience to our customer."

This is the third time the hearings have been postponed. Originally scheduled Sept. 10, the hearings were delayed a week because a previous zoning case was extended. Then the hearings were delayed seven more days because another case was extended.

"We're disappointed," said Alton J. Scavo, senior vice president of Rouse. "We were prepared to go to hearings on Sept. 24, but it's one of those things that we have to live with."

Darrel E. Drown, who chairs the Zoning Board, said he is worried that the delay will suggest to residents that county officials are trying to avoid the hearings.

The proposal entails building 1,410 single-family homes, townhouses and apartments on 522 acres straddling Interstate 95, south of Gorman Road and north of Route 216 in North Laurel. The plan also includes clearing 889,669 square feet of employment space and 183 acres of open space.

Several leaders of local community organizations concerned about the impact of the proposal said they would use the extra time to rehearse their arguments.

"Part of the problem is that we -- as community members -- don't have the time and resources at our disposal to prepare for this," said Gregory K. Fries, who chairs the Southern Howard Land Use Committee. "I would see the time as being a significant benefit to us."

Added William B. Waff, president of the Savage Community Association: "I don't think this affects our strategy."

But Tom Flynn, president of the North Laurel Civic Association, said he is worried that the delay could diffuse interest among residents -- many of whom have planned on attending a rally Thursday at 7 p.m. at Carroll Baldwin Hall in Savage.

Pub Date: 9/16/97

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