Soccer-field proposal set for more testimony

Board of Appeals session scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Ellicott City

November 25, 2001|By Lowell E. Sunderland

Round 2 of testimony before the Howard County Board of Appeals about Covenant Park - the 10-field complex the Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County wants to build - is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Ellicott City.

SAC/HC will continue the presentation it began Sept. 13 with its project engineer and lighting consultant the key witnesses about the project proposed for 46 acres on the west side of Centennial Lane, roughly opposite Centennial Park.

To proceed with construction, SAC/HC needs appeals board approval of a special exception for the rural zoned land that the 6,000-player club is buying from Covenant Baptist Church, which wants to build a new sanctuary there, as well. Athletic fields and churches are permissible uses for such acreage, and the advisory Planning Board unanimously approved the soccer complex plans in August.

The first evening of testimony before the appeals board had rancorous and tedious tones. A lawyer who acknowledged he knew little about the proposal and had not been part of the Planning Board presentation was chosen on the spot to speak for an array of Centennial-area individuals with objections, primarily about traffic.

SAC/HC President Jim Carlan said that, since then, his group has heard no objections to the project. And Eileen Ireland, who leads a small, community-based group that successfully fought off proposed townhouse construction on the same acreage several years ago, said she, too, was hearing nothing from likely opponents.

"There seems to be a lot less interest in this than there was in the townhouses," Ireland said last week. She and associates haggled with SAC/HC over plans for months before the proposal was made public in August 2000.

On Thursday, SAC/HC will outline the grading, sewerage and road needs for its proposed complex - the first of its kind for a soccer club in metropolitan Baltimore - as well as lighting for four of the 10 fields. Carlan said the club proposes state-of-the-art lights, which, through use of shields and special bulbs, can be targeted more precisely on fields than lights used at Centennial Park.

Thursday's hearing will be conducted in the George Howard Building in the county government complex in Ellicott City.

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