Critical turns for auto track

Raceway: Approvals from port advisory group, County Council would allow project to continue.

February 04, 1999

THE PROSPECT of a 61,000-seat auto racing stadium in northern Anne Arundel County near the Key Bridge should be clearer in the coming weeks. The Maryland Port Administration land-use advisory council Wednesday will recommend whether Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corp. should be allowed on 100 waterfront acres, the site of a former copper refinery. In early March, the Anne Arundel County Council takes a critical vote on whether to rescind the previous council's approval.

The port council is expected to give its blessing since no one else is interested in this brownfields site, and several influential members support the project.

Backing from the County Council is less assured, however. Only one member remains from the prior council, which last spring rushed through legislation to expedite review of the track. Several new members of the council want the developers to go through a quasijudicial special exception process before an administrative hearing officer.

FOR THE RECORD - A Feb. 4 editorial said that Chesapeake Motorsports Development Co. was the only company interested in a Pasadena site. Chesapeake Beneficial Material Corp., a start-up dredge spoil recycler, has expressed interest, too. The Sun regrets the error.

Last spring, we supported the special exception process. At this point, however, it is unfair for the developer to have to jump through another hoop after the county approved the waiver. Some say that former councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr. pushed through the exception, but not without the support of a council majority.

Chesapeake Motorsports has warned that it might withdraw from Anne Arundel, as it did from Baltimore County last year, if the process drags on. The project's loss would cost the county $5 million in annual tax revenue.

Chesapeake Motorsports must propose concrete solutions to traffic and parking questions. But the project is valuable, the site is the best Anne Arundel has, and the county would be foolish not to give the proposal full and fair consideration.

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