State police commander, residents meet about flier

Racist literature left at 2 Finksburg homes

July 23, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The commander of the Westminster State Police barracks met last night with Finksburg Planning Area Council in response to publicity about a racist flier left at two homes this month.

"This is to answer the community questions and clear the air," said Lt. Terry Katz. "We are extremely concerned any time anybody this hateful comes into a community," but "we don't want to give them an audience."

Apparently, he succeeded -- he heard no comments from the more than 30 residents other than thanks of the group's president, Donald Hoffman.

The two fliers left in newspaper boxes were from the World Church of the Creator, which was linked this month to Benjamin Nathaniel Smith's deadly shooting spree in the Midwest, Katz said. No more fliers have been discovered.

"First, let me say Finksburg was not targeted in this incident," said Katz, who investigated it. "It does not mean they suddenly decided to see this as a recruiting area, [more likely it's because] you are between two main roads.

"It is not illegal to distribute this type of material," Katz said. "I think we all appreciate the First Amendment [grants] the freedom to be as racist or hateful as you want to be.

"Because of the incidents in Indiana and Illinois, a tremendous amount of attention was paid to this. That's why I'm here."

In February, before the Midwest shootings, the same flier taken from a Web site was left on cars at Westminster High School and a few were passed out at Western Maryland College, he noted. No charges can be placed unless trespassing or littering was involved, or U.S. mail boxes were used.

In other business, the Finksburg group voted almost unanimously to oppose the plans of Carroll Community Church, a growing nondenominational Christian congregation based in Eldersburg, for a 2,000-seat church nearby on the Carroll-Baltimore County border.

While the vast majority of its 65-acre site at Route 91 and Mount Gilead Road lies in Baltimore County, the 4 acres in Carroll would include the road frontage on Route 91 and much of the parking lot, said board member Neil Ridgely.

The project requires a special zoning exception from Baltimore County, which is set for a public hearing there next month.

"My concern is not so much the use as the size of it," Ridgely said. "There will probably be seven-day, seven night conferences and day care -- not just Sundays."

In agreement was George Harman, president of the Hanover Road Community Association, in Baltimore County, who attended last night's meeting and said his group had decided to oppose the church's plan.

"It's not that we're opposed to a church," Harman said. "It's the size of this church."

If Baltimore County doesn't deny the special exception, Harman and Ridgely suggested, they will ask that the decision be deferred until the church provides specific information about expected traffic, parking lots, signs, and hours of operation.

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