Redskins chastised on delays


For the second day in a row, the Anne Arundel County official presiding over the zoning hearing on the proposed NFL stadium in Laurel chastised Redskins lawyers for not providing timely information.

"I'm not entirely happy with the way this is being prosecuted: Tell them nothing. Give it to them late. Changes at the last minute," said Robert C. Wilcox, administrative hearing officer. "It doesn't pass the sniff test, frankly."

Lawyers representing stadium opponents complained yesterday that they had not received some of the written material they had subpoenaed and that was to have been delivered Monday.

Mr. Wilcox said the Redskins were employing a strategy of delay that "doesn't lend itself to an open and fresh debate of the issues." But although he did not like it, Mr. Wilcox said, he was powerless to change it.

Later, he softened his tone, saying perhaps the delays were not deliberate.

"Larger zoning cases to tend to result in last-minute corrections," he said. "It just seems that in this case there are . . . a lot more than there usually is.

"It gives the impression that something is being hidden," he said.

"I think the applicant has been as forthcoming as he can, under the circumstances," responded Redskins lawyer Harry Blumenthal.

On Monday, Mr. Wilcox refused to consider an alternative site plan for the $160 million stadium that was given to county officials last Friday because it did not give officials enough time to review the material.

After yesterday's hearing, Walter Lynch, the Redskins' project manager for the 78,600-seat stadium, said, "I give our information out as soon as I get it. We've been meeting with the county weekly and talking to them regularly. By no means are we hiding anything."

On Monday, Mr. Wilcox had told the Redskins he didn't like the legal maneuvers they employed to keep their zoning application active.

Opposition lawyers almost derailed the hearing as soon as it opened by claiming that the Redskins were not registered to do business in Maryland and could not apply for a zoning variance.

Mr. Wilcox decided the Redskins had solved their legal problems, but told them, "At best, it was sloppy. It's held together by bubble gum and paper clips."

Most of yesterday morning was spent questioning Redskins site plan expert Sean Davis, a senior associate with LDR International of Columbia.

Opposition lawyer Richard Talkin pressed Mr. Davis about the Redskins' request for a variance reducing the number of trees that must be planted in stadium parking lots.

Mr. Davis had testified Monday that the county code would require the Redskins to plant 2,652 trees in green space in the parking lots.

The Redskins are not seeking a reduction in the number of trees to be planted, he said, but they want to plant some of them in the buffer area on the edge of the stadium site instead of in the parking lots. Also, he said, the Redskins are including 14.4 acres of green space, more than double the 6.1 acres required by the county.

Mr. Davis said that a quirk in the county code requires them to plant more trees than can physically fit on the required green space.

The afternoon was spent introducing a series of traffic reports prepared by the Redskins.

Mr. Lynch said that testimony on traffic would probably continue until at least tomorrow.

Mr. Wilcox announced that an evening session of the public hearing would be held at 6 p.m. July 21 in the Meade Senior High School auditorium. It will continue as late as 11:45 p.m. if necessary, he said, and no daytime hearing will be held that day.

Anyone wishing to speak will be asked to sign up at the door.

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