It was hard to tell which infuriated northern Anne Arundel County residents more: the prospect of a 650-bed jail in Glen Burnie or County Executive Robert R. Neall.
As angry as they were over Mr. Neall's plans to build an $80 million, maximum-security detention center in their back yard, the citizens who packed the County Council chambers in Annapolis last night were even angrier that they knew nothing of the proposed jail until two weeks ago, when Mr. Neall asked state lawmakers to help pay for it.
"If Lincoln were here today, he'd say this is a government under Neall, by Neall and for Neall, and to hell with the people," said Gerry Sinchack, president of the Marley Creek Improvement Association.
Council members had been scheduled to vote last night on a resolution, requested by Mr. Neall, supporting the jail site. But at the urging of north county state lawmakers and residents from Glen Burnie, Brooklyn Park and Marley, the council agreed to delay action on the resolution until a public hearing can be held in the county's northern area.
A date for the hearing was not set.
The detention center would be built on an 85-acre site near an old Army depot on New Ordnance Road, just south of the Beltway.
North Arundel politicians and their constituents suspect that despite a county-commissioned report assuring that the site is environmentally safe, hazardous wastes or munitions remain buried there. They also want to know why the county, which bought the land from the Army in 1981, has been unable to sell it to at least four prospective buyers.
In a report released yesterday, Woodward-Clyde Consultants of Gaithersburg gave the site a clean bill of health. Christopher D. Gerber, a project manager for the firm, said he found no buried munitions on the site, no heavy metals in soil samples and no hazardous ground water metals in water samples.
Based on a prison consultant's recommendations, Mr. Neall chose to build a new jail in Glen Burnie rather than put a high-rise extension at the existing county detention center in Annapolis because of differences in cost.