County Council approves bills to lease land to Ravens

Zoning change to allow offices is awaiting vote

August 06, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council paved the way for a new Ravens training facility in Northwest Regional Park last night, and voted to put on November's ballot a charter amendment giving the council more power over county department heads.

The councilmen engaged in an unusually spirited debate about the bills, grilling Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon and Parks and Recreation Director John F. Weber III about the details of the Ravens deal.

One councilman, Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat, voted against the Ravens bills, which give the team a 25-year lease on 32 acres of parkland. The council has not voted on a zoning change to allow the team to build practice fields, athletic facilities and a 120,000-square- foot office building on the land.

The councilmen also approved extending water and sewer service to the facility. Gardina said he voted in favor of that because the rest of the park would benefit from the water and sewer lines as well.

By the terms of the deal, the team will pay about $8.1 million over the course of the lease. The deal also calls for the Ravens to build a lighted football field nearby for public use and to allow public use of the team's facilities at least three days a year.

Gardina said allowing a for-profit business to build on public parkland sets a bad precedent, but other councilmen said they feared that if they didn't do so, the Ravens - and the tax revenue the team generates - would move to another county.

Several council members urged the county to try to get more than three days of public use of the Ravens camp.

The charter amendment, if approved by voters in November, would allow the council to confirm the executive's appointments for the directors of county departments.

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