Legislative fight over redevelopment leaves delegate suspicious

April 21, 2000|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

The legislative elbowing over a plan to redevelop three aging Baltimore County neighborhoods has ended, but the bruises have yet to heal.

Del. Diane DeCarlo, a White Marsh Democrat who spearheaded a fight against a bill giving the county the power to condemn land for economic development, says a pair of bizarre incidents may be linked to her opposition to the law, which was backed by most county political leaders.

No evidence of a connection has been found, but the lawmaker says she can think of no other explanation.

"Maybe I am getting a little paranoid," DeCarlo said. "It's my gut feeling. Let's put it that way."

This week, DeCarlo's Annapolis office was broken into and her file cabinet damaged. The cabinet contained documents relating to the condemnation plan and other issues, none of which was removed.

State Department of General Services officers are investigating the incident.

The husband of another state delegate whose waterfront property stands to gain value from the revitalization plan was spotted at DeCarlo's home this month.

DeCarlo's daughter, Deneen McKenzie, filed a police report that accused Daniel Hubers, the husband of Del. Nancy Hubers, of sitting in a parked car in the family's driveway without permission.

Nancy Hubers recused herself from voting on the condemnation proposal because of a potential conflict of interest. Property she owns with her husband is not on the list of sites the county wants to purchase but is adjacent to some of them and will appreciate in value if they are developed.

Daniel Hubers, 82, said in an interview that he had an engagement April 4 at a restaurant near DeCarlo's Pulaski Highway home. When the person he was supposed to meet didn't show up on time, he said, he drove onto DeCarlo's property to check whether his acquaintance had made a wrong turn.

The charges and countercharges offer a glimpse of emotions rubbed raw by the redevelopment plan.

Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and other backers of the proposal say they want to purchase and raze some buildings in Essex-Middle River, Dundalk and Randallstown. The land would be sold or given to developers to give an economic boost to the areas.

Opponents, including DeCarlo, counter that the county is transferring property from working-class business owners and residents to wealthy developers who can make more money from it.

Sen. Michael J. Collins, the Essex Democrat who sponsored the bill, said neither he nor anyone he knows is targeting DeCarlo.

The state Department of General Services has few clues in the break-in, which was reported Tuesday.

Daniel Hubers said police told him their investigation had ended and that he thinks he cleared the air with DeCarlo in a telephone conversation.

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