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Appeal extends Safeway fight; Company still seeks waiver for project on Deale flood plain


The two-year battle to keep a supermarket and strip mall out of South County has moved on to the county's board of appeals.

Safeway Inc. is appealing the county's decision last month to deny the grocery store chain a waiver to build the shopping center on a flood plain at routes 256 and 258 in Deale. A hearing has not been scheduled.

"We've been meeting and exceeding every requirement," said Greg TenEyck, director of public affairs for Safeway's regional headquarters in Lanham. "We feel that once the board of appeals reviews the case, we will receive the waiver."

Safeway needs a waiver to build a grocery store and strip mall on a 13-acre site it owns in Deale because the land is in a 100-year "storm drainage" flood plain. County officials denied the waiver, warning of "the possibility of serious environmental consequences."

The decision was considered a major victory for Safeway opponents who said a supermarket and strip mall would disrupt the small-town character of Deale, destroy sensitive shoreline and create acidic runoffs that could contaminate waterways.

County Executive Janet S. Owens declined to comment on the appeal, according to a spokesman, Andrew C. Carpenter.

"The county executive supports and agrees with the decision to deny the flood plain waiver in Deale," Carpenter said. "However, now that it has entered the legal arena, it is inappropriate to make any other comment."

Safeway filed the appeal Feb. 18 to the seven-member board, which was appointed by the Anne Arundel County Council.

Either side can challenge the board's decision in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

Safeway had submitted a plan to the county in 1991 to build on 9 commercially zoned acres at the Deale location, but it was rejected because of storm-water management concerns.

Company reworks plan

Working with the county, the developer submitted a redesigned plan that expanded the site to 13 acres to allow for storm-water management.

The application calls for four buildings, totaling more than 88,000 square feet of commercial space, including a 55,000-square-foot anchor store. A pond would be built next to the shopping center to collect storm-water runoff.

"We feel we've done everything they've asked," TenEyck said, adding that since the waiver was denied, the company has received calls and letters of support from residents.

Opponents rally

As Safeway was working with the county, an environmental group, South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development (SACReD), rallied 3,000 residents in the Deale area and local business owners to fight the plans.

Signs were posted throughout the Shady Side/Deale area, fliers and buttons were given out at grocery stores and more than 400 people attended a public forum with the Army Corps of Engineers in early December.

A few spoke for the supermarket and strip mall plans, but many were against it, asking the corps why it granted Safeway a wetland permit for construction two years ago.

SACReD environmentalists argued that the amount of wetlands in the area had tripled to 2.7 acres since the corps study.

Corps officials stuck to their decision to grant the permit.

Opponents then turned to the county.

'The right decision'

Amanda Spake, president of SACReD, said the organization was not surprised by the appeal and plans to have a presence at the hearing.

"We thought there was a good chance they'd appeal," she said. "But we're pretty confident the county made the right decision, and it's hard to see the board of appeals changing that."

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