Governor stands firm on $13 million bypass

`There is no project,' he says in Brookeville

February 20, 1999|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

BROOKEVILLE -- A combative Gov. Parris Glendening again drew a line through this town's proposed bypass yesterday, and then he drew a line in the dirt and challenged the road's supporters to cross it.

Within hours, the battle for the bypass around this village in rural Montgomery County was joined once more.

Glendening, surrounded by townspeople and elected officials, reiterated that the state will not pay for the $13 million road because it runs contrary to his anti-sprawl Smart Growth campaign.

The governor also brushed aside yesterday an appeal filed by county officials and endorsed by two of the three members of the state Board of Public Works, who would hear their arguments.

"There is nothing to appeal. There is no project," said a visibly irritated Glendening, during an hour-long visit to Brookeville to survey the area's traffic problems. "I guess it can make people feel good if they want to send in an appeal. They can vote yes, they can vote no. It doesn't affect anything. There is no money in the budget. There was no money in the budget. There will be no money in the budget."

Residents of Brookeville pleaded with the governor to pay for the bypass, saying it was a matter of safety, not growth management.

They spoke with pride of the town's history as the capital of the United States for one night as President James Madison fled British troops in the War of 1812.

"If we are to survive and maintain this historic village we must get the traffic out of town," said William Hussmann, resident and county planningboard chairman.

After the governor left the village, County Executive Douglas Duncan and state Sen. Christopher McCabe said they disagreed with him.

"We've researched the state law. There's a specific clause that sets up the appeal and that's what we've done," said Duncan, who asked the Board of Public Works Thursday to review the decision.

If state law isn't specific enough for the governor, McCabe said, he will file a bill this session to "enforce the intent of the legislature when Smart Growth was approved to give communities an avenue to appeal adverse decisions.

"He's just adopted an interpretation that satisfies his preconceived opinion," said McCabe, a Republican who represents Brookeville.

The 1 1/2-mile bypass has been on the area's master plan for decades as a remedy for the drastic dogleg taken by Route 97 as it winds through Brookeville.

The state estimates that 13,000 vehicles -- many of them from the sprawling bedroom communities in Howard and Carroll counties -- pass through the town each day.

Last month, citing the governor's Smart Growth plan to combat suburban sprawl, state planners removed the road from the five-year capital budget.

William Donald Schaefer, who as state comptroller is a member of the Board of Public Works, has stated his support for the road. Yesterday, he was joined by state Treasurer Richard Dixon.

"I'm going to vote with Don Schaefer to put this project back in if we have the authority to do so," said Dixon, leaving Glendening in the minority on the board.

Earlier this month, Schaefer and Dixon toured the partially completed Law Enforcement Training Center in Sykesville, which Glendening also has said does not conform to his Smart Growth policies and should be moved to another location. As with the Montgomery bypass, Schaefer and Dixon are opposing the governor's decision in Sykesville.

But Glendening remained unmoved on the Brookeville matter yesterday. "Remember, we're not considering this in isolation, we're looking statewide and saying, `What can we do to stop or reduce sprawl?' "

Residents said the governor was punishing Montgomery County for the development excesses of Howard and Carroll counties.

"He just doesn't get it," said County Council member Nancy Dacek, the Republican who represents the town. "We'll appeal, we'll fight, we'll make a lot of noise. We're happy to be the household nags."

Pub Date: 2/20/99

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