Plan for new hearing upsets auto track foes

Unfair to give developers second chance to present proposal, they say

January 20, 1999|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Port Administration has angered opponents of a proposed auto racetrack by giving the developers a second chance to present their plans.

Residents opposed to the track on the Solley Peninsula worried that scheduling the developers' second hearing during the day, while most opponents are at work, might give the developers free rein and might be a sign of bias on the part of port officials.

Marcia Drenzyk, spokeswoman for Citizens Against the Racing Stadium Site, said she felt developers had already had a chance to make their case and worried that the MPA's actions would render the previous meeting two weeks ago irrelevant.

"What was the last meeting for, then?" she said. "I'm mystified as to why [developers] should be making another presentation. They have made all kinds of claims, and I'm not going to let them go unremarked. We'll be there."

Alan Kurland, director of the Port Land Use Development Office, said yesterday that the MPA's intention was to accommodate residents who have something to say at the meeting scheduled for Feb. 10 at the World Trade Center.

The Port Land Use Advisory Committee, created last year, is expected to vote at that meeting on the proposal to lease 100 acres south of the Key Bridge to Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corp., which is planning a 54,800-seat racing stadium on the site.

Two weeks ago, the MPA moved the time and place of its January meeting after residents on both sides of the issue said they would be left out of discussions. At that meeting, time constraints and a lost speaker list prevented many from speaking.

Kurland said no agenda had been set for next month's meeting and that plans for both sides to speak could change.

"The council got a good taste for both sides at the last meeting, but just in case anyone feels left out, we want to give them one more bite at the apple," he said. "We want to be as open as possible."

Bob Douglas, an attorney for the developers, said he did not know whether his clients intend to present their arguments again, but he said he is confident they won't if that would take time away from people who felt they were overlooked last time.

"Obviously, if the port wants us to address an issue, we will," he said. "But we want to make sure people can voice their opinions about the project."

Both sides have complained about not being heard.

Supporters of the track, who according to elected officials are the minority on the peninsula, say they have not received as much attention as Citizens Against the Racing Stadium Site has.

Opponents say they haven't been listened to either, first by the County Council, then by John G. Gary, who supported the track while he was county executive. The group also was shut out of quasi-county agencies such as the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., which lured the track to the county.

The agency denied residents information about the developers on grounds that it is a private agency, even though it was created and is funded by the county.

Pub Date: 1/20/99

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