Planned park fails to amuse

Idea for attraction meets opposition from area residents

Zoning official hears sides

Glen Burnie

May 09, 2001|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

If Les Jenkins has his way, a 32-acre stretch between Ritchie Highway and the Dover Road dump will be brimming with go-cart tracks, skateboard parks and other amusements he says are lacking in Glen Burnie.

If certain residents and state representatives have anything to say about it, Jenkins will have to take his idea elsewhere.

Yesterday, zoning hearing officer Stephen LeGendre heard from both sides about the proposed Les Jenkins Family Fun Park during a daylong hearing on whether to grant Jenkins a special exception to build an amusement park in a commercially zoned district.

Jenkins also has applied for a variance to build the park on the site, which is farther from a freeway than allowed for an amusement park. About 85 residents turned out for the hearing, at which Jenkins' lawyer, Charles F. Delavan, presented engineers, architects and consultants to address concerns about noise, traffic, parking and safety.

Jenkins, of Edgemere, said he is seeking to fill a void for area children, some of whom can't afford to travel to theme parks in other states.

"The Dover Road site was perfect. It still is perfect," Jenkins said. In addition to the go-cart tracks and skateboard park, Jenkins is also proposing a water park, a sports center, indoor arcade and special events venue. Jenkins is not planning any seating for the events venue. Concerts, he said, would be held outside with the audience on beach chairs.

The residents in attendance appeared frustrated as the hours wore on and Jenkins was short on specifics for certain questions.

When asked what special events would be coming, he said: "It's difficult to tell you what I see. I'm limited only by my imagination."

He then added: "In all sincerity and honesty, everything will be wholesome, family-oriented and should not be offensive to anyone."

When asked if environmental regulatory agencies had studied the site, which is close to Furnace Branch Creek, Jenkins said he couldn't answer that question.

When one resident questioned him about the noise from the go-carts, Jenkins responded: "Your lawnmower is stronger than these cars."

LeGendre has 30 days to rule on the request, which the county Office of Planning and Zoning opposed yesterday.

State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno and Dels. Joan Cadden, John R. Leopold and Mary M. Rosso also expressed their opposition to the plan to LeGendre in a letter.

Glen Burnie businessman Sam Truitt hopes LeGendre grants the special exception. The Pasadena resident has four sons, and says he's worried that area children have no amusement outlets.

Truitt said he was impressed with Jenkins' plans and his staff.

Thomas Saunders isn't so impressed. A resident of nearby Juniper Drive, he said the Jenkins team is highlighting the bike tracks and skateboard parks when the bulk of the park would be for go-carts. Saunders calls the proposal "a racetrack, plain and simple," and said he fears Jenkins would use it for larger, NASCAR-type cars.

Jenkins said he has no such intentions, and pointed to Saunders' fear as evidence that the community is not well-informed about his proposal.

"They're afraid of this, they're afraid of that," he said. "If this was Salem, I'd be burned at the stake for being a witch, because these people are on a witch hunt."

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