Decision awaited on motor racetrack

Port administration seeks more details before resolving issue

January 11, 1999|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

A couple of months ago, Pasadena residents figured the debate over a proposed racetrack for the Solley peninsula, one of the most divisive issues in the county at present, would be over by now, decided one way or the other by the Maryland Port Administration.

But in a continuation of the stalemate, a meeting Wednesday resulted in no decision whether the port should lease land to the track developers, leaving race foes and fans equally dissatisfied.

Port officials say they will vote Feb. 10 on leasing 100 acres to Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corp., after they get more information.

Many residents opposed to the track, who have tried for almost a year to get a public hearing on the matter, said they were thwarted by the port administration meeting's late start and a missing speaker list.

Several members of Citizens Against the Racing Stadium Site were not allowed to speak as a result.

"Everyone on that list spent their time and energy writing speeches and coordinating their comments," said Marcia Drenzyk, spokeswoman for CARRS. "They have been shortchanged, drastically shortchanged."

Alan Kurland, director of the Port Land Use Development Office, who presided over the meeting, said he did not think the disappearance of the list was malicious. He urged people to submit their speeches in writing or to call him at the port administration.

Members of Racing Advocates Committed Exclusively For Approval of New Speedway said Friday they also do not feel their message has gotten out. They say they have the signatures of more than 3,000 Pasadena residents who want the track.

"The scales are stacked against us," said Greg Lombard, president of RACEFANS, who also did not get a chance to speak. "Nobody's been speaking for us, but we consistently show up at the meetings and continue to battle.

"It's angering to think there's a handful of people that have the power behind them like the elected officials, and it's a slap in the face to the thousands of people who support this project."

He said his group lost its supporters in government in the fall elections because many members did not vote, but he promised more political involvement in the future.

Del.-elect Mary Rosso said a lack of communication occurred when the County Council changed zoning requirements in April.

The change allowed motor racing complexes as a "conditional use" on land zoned heavy industrial.

"You can see this is the result of the County Council's actions," she said. "The way it was done has circumvented everyone's freedom of speech. And really that's all people want -- to be heard."

Kurland said that while the port administration has emerged at the center of a volatile local issue, it has not felt any pressure from officials to act.

"We're really trying to be fair to both the opposition and proponents," Kurland said. "We're certainly interested in what both have to say."

Pub Date: 1/11/99

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