Plan to extend I-795 drawing lots of attention


Dell-a-vision has not faded, and Finksburg residents have not tuned it out.

Carroll Commissioner Donald I. Dell yesterday continued to tout his plan to extend Interstate 795, even though the other two commissioners have said they oppose it.

And a citizens group organized last month in Finksburg elected officers and formed committees Tuesday night. The group plans a public meeting in July about the issue.

Mr. Dell, who links the road extension to his plan to build an incinerator at the Northern Landfill, said his decisions are not politically motivated.

Speaking at a Carroll County Chamber of Commerce County Relations Committee meeting at the Carroll County Public Library headquarters, Mr. Dell said Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy's recent decision to oppose the I-795 extension was made under pressure from constituents.

"Mr. Lippy said he reversed his position after doing some research, but he hasn't told me what that research was. I think there was some political pressure in that," Mr. Dell said.

"I don't think about politics when I make a decision. I make decisions based on what I think is good and necessary for the county. If I don't get elected next time, I will go on and the county will go on," Mr. Dell said.

The commissioner has proposed extending I-795 roughly parallel to Route 140 from Baltimore County through Carroll to connect with Route 15 in Pennsylvania. He also wants to build a waste-to-energy plant at the landfill that would burn trash to generate electricity, and to industrialize the Route 140 corridor between Finksburg and Westminster.

In February, Mr. Lippy said he supported Mr. Dell's plan to extend the road. Last week, he said he had heard from about 20 constituents who opposed the plan, a number he said he considered "a lot" on one issue.

Mr. Lippy said he would like to see a bypass built around Route 30 and light-rail lines extended to Carroll. Another option would be to make no changes, he said.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge has said she supports the Route 30 bypass.

Mr. Dell said, "Things aren't as negative about the 795 project as people would have you believe. Everywhere I go, I get compliments and positive comments about the project."

He said he mentioned the road extension and incinerator in his 1990 campaign.

"At that point, I didn't really know what I was talking about," Mr. Dell said. "But now, after looking into them, I'm a strong believer in both of them.

"I know it is useless to go to the federal government by myself," he said. "It may not happen for a few years -- until another group of commissioners comes on board."

Some Chamber members said Mr. Dell's idea would be a way to bring economic development to the county and reduce traffic problems.

"This appears to be an excellent idea, and I couldn't see why people were against it," said Dottie Wells, Chamber president and manager of O'Conor, Piper and Flynn's Westminster office.

Frank Wanken of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. said, "Harford County is beating the pants off of us because they have [Interstate] 95. I applaud your efforts to put things on the table, and it is to your credit that you have the foresight to see something is needed."

Some committee members suggested Mr. Dell hire a consultant to study the highway extension.

Some county residents -- one of whom coined the term "Dell-a-vision" -- said they oppose the highway extension because it would disrupt the quiet, country atmosphere of their neighborhoods and hurt their property values. Some suggested widening Route 140 instead.

On Tuesday, about 20 members of the Carroll County Civic Association met at the home of one resident to plan their campaign. They elected Mary Lewis as president, Bill Keeney as vice president, Sue Schwartz as secretary and Michelle Hudgins as treasurer. All live in Finksburg.

The residents formed committees to study the different parts of Mr. Dell's plan, group spokeswoman Debbie Ridgely said yesterday. They plan a public meeting in July for people to learn more about the issues and the citizens group, she said.

They also adopted a mission statement that says the group will address growth issues in Carroll and "take an active role in influencing government decisions."

Association dues are $10 a year for an individual and $25 a year for a family, Mrs. Ridgely said.

For information about the association, write P.O. Box 1761, Westminster, Md., 21158-8761.

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