Baltimore County Digest

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

September 01, 2006

State to let dredge deal die to stop LNG terminal

In an effort to stop a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal on Sparrows Point, Maryland officials said yesterday that they will not extend a contract with the operators of a shipyard to allow dredge spoils to be deposited at Hart Miller Island.

Barletta Willis owns the Sparrows Point property where a global power company is proposing to build an LNG facility. The company received permission from the Maryland Port Authority in October 2004 to dispose of 600,000 cubic yards of dredge from a shipping channel between the Patapsco River and Bear Creek at Hart Miller Island. The contract expires at the end of January.

Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan announced yesterday that the state will not extend the agreement, in part, because LNG opponents fear that if the channel were dredged, the company that wants to build the LNG facility would have an easier time receiving federal approval for the project.

"This is one part of the broader effort to oppose the LNG terminal and to bring the kind of development to Sparrows Point that the Dundalk community wants," Flanagan said.

AES Corp. has proposed building a $400 million LNG terminal at the former Bethlehem Steel shipyard, where shipments of the liquefied gas would arrive in tankers and be turned back into gas and then pumped through a 87-mile pipeline from Sparrows Point to southern Pennsylvania.

The proposal calls for dredging about 2.5 million to 4 million cubic yards to accommodate the tankers that would import the liquefied gas.

Opponents fear the dredging would disturb toxic substances settled deep in the muck.

Barletta Willis received its dredging permits for a ship repair facility, according to state officials.

LNG opponents said they were pleased with yesterday's news about Hart Miller Island. "I think it's a good step in halting the project," said Carolyn Jones, president of the Greater Dundalk Alliance.

Laura Barnhardt

Towson

Golf course offers home compromise

A lawyer for the Country Club of Maryland presented revised plans yesterday to build 36 houses, grouped in twos, on 13.8 acres near the privately held golf course.

The latest plan is a compromise between the club and community leaders who were opposed to the development. The club, which had sought to build 56 homes, has also agreed to sell 55 acres of its 156 acres to the county for $2 million if the club were ever to stop operating.

But Lawrence A. Schmidt, a lawyer for the club, said, "It's hopefully always going to be a golf course."

The club has also agreed not to develop its 95 remaining acres for the next 25 years, as part of the compromise with neighbors.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. "is convinced that if the community and developers will sit down to try to solve a problem, they'll do just that -- come up with the a solution," said Donald I. Mohler III, a county spokesman.

Mohler added that the $2 million for the land must be approved by the County Council. The council is expected to discuss the purchase at its Sept. 26 work session.

A hearing on the project before the county's zoning commissioner is set for Sept. 8.

Laura Barnhardt

Overlea

Man to serve 4 years in sex abuse case

A 41-year-old martial arts instructor has been sentenced to four years in prison for sexually abusing a teenage girl at his Overlea karate studio and at his Abingdon home, according to court records.

Howard Mitchell Jr., owner of a martial arts studio in the 7600 block of Belair Road, was convicted in May of one count of sexual abuse of a minor.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Kathleen G. Cox sentenced Mitchell on Tuesday to 10 years, suspending all but four years of the prison term.

She also ordered him to register as a sex offender, serve five years of supervised probation and have no unsupervised contact with children younger than 18.

Prosecutor Jason League said that the restrictions will permit Mitchell to teach adult karate classes after he is released from prison but will preclude him from instructing children.

Jennifer McMenamin

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