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Three appeal court's decision in effort to halt BG&E; project


Three Annapolis residents are seeking to overturn a court decision paving the way for expansion of an electrical substation despite community concern over possible harmful emissions.

In a seven-page appeal filed Friday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, John G. Rice, Nancy A. Gordon and Sandra Travis claimed a judge erred in reversing a city decision against the Annapolis Neck project.

The Tyler Heights residents also argued that they were not informed in early October when Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams ordered Annapolis to issue a permit to Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. The utility has been trying to expand its Tyler Avenue substation to keep up with the increased demand for power on the rapidly developing Annapolis Neck Peninsula.

"We never received the judgment from Judge Williams to know whether we should appeal it," Mr. Rice said Friday.

Two years ago, the City Council rejected the planned $2.5 million expansion because of neighborhood concern over reports linking the electromagnetic fields produced by power lines to an increased risk of cancer. BG&E; promptly sued to reverse the decision.

Judge Williams ruled Oct. 6 that the council decision was "arbitrary and capricious." He also said the city permitted too much hearsay evidence in lengthy public hearings on the expansion.

But the three residents, who were co-defendants with the city in the suit, pointed out that the applicant is not allowed to cross-examine witnesses during a public hearing. The appeal cites procedural irregularities, including not allowing all three residents to testify before the judge in August.

The council will be voting again on the substation tomorrow night, after the residents successfully argued that a super-majority vote, or 7-2, was needed. The council approved the expansion March 6 by a 5-4 vote.

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