Vote on office-park plan stalls in Arundel council

Amid complaints of a filibuster, a minority of the Anne Arundel County Council has blocked a vote on legislation that would clear the way for a developer to turn the former David Taylor Research Center near Annapolis into a high-tech office park.

Twenty-seven amendments were offered Tuesday night by two council members critical of the developer's proposal, and only 10 had been acted on - a defeat in every case - by the midnight voting deadline. That means the remaining 17 amendments, with the two bills, cannot be voted on until the council meeting Jan. 16.


The amendments' sponsors, Democrat Barbara D. Samorajczyk of Annapolis and Republican Cathleen M. Vitale of Severna Park, said they were raising legitimate issues, such as who could use ball fields and how an on-site day care center would be designed.

"This is not a filibuster, merely an attempt to understand this legislation," Samorajczyk said. She said she asked few questions at last month's public hearing because more than 60 members of the public spoke.


But council colleagues, and County Executive Janet S. Owens, said the slew of amendments was meant to delay action on the bills until they expire Feb. 23. The first vote on an amendment occurred after 2 1/2 hours of questions, mostly from Vitale and Samorajczyk.

Yesterday, William A. Badger Jr., chief of Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., drove home Owens' point. "In her view, this was a disingenuous attempt to filibuster the David Taylor legislative package - to kill it," he said.

The council meets three more times before the bills automatically die. One bill would make a zoning change. The other would exempt the property from the Chesapeake Bay critical area law, meant to protect the bay by restricting development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Separate from the deadline, Badger says the Navy has been eager to transfer the 46-acre site to the county. The county would give it to Annapolis Partners, a developer team that plans to invest $250 million to build 730,000 square feet of office space and an inn on the Severn River.

He said the Navy no longer is paying the $140,000 monthly upkeep costs for David Taylor, leaving the county to pick up the tab until the transfer.

But undercutting the sense of urgency, Badger said "no one knows" exactly when the Navy would transfer the land. Ron K. McDonald, of Annapolis Partners, said if the council had passed the bills Tuesday, the transfer could have taken until March.