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School site foes' request hits snag

A request by the Citizens for Adequate School Facilities for judicial review of decisions made concerning a future Howard County high school was put on hold yesterday.

Members, who have been fighting the Marriottsville placement of the proposed school, had asked an administrative law judge to appraise the validity of a sewage-discharge permit issued for the project by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

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But attorneys for the Howard County school system and MDE argued the group did not have the required legal standing to make such a request because it did not provide specific evidence of special damages and did not detail the makeup of the group.

"The entire request should be dismissed because it does not meet the requirements of the law," said school system attorney Anthony G. Gorski.

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Representatives of the group said it is difficult to detail environmental effect without evidence they say they have requested and been denied from MDE.

"I've asked for impact studies, and no one's come to me to tell me how bad it's going to be," said Andy C. Lisle, who lives near the high school site and fears building there could harm nearby wetlands and the value of his property.

"The impact won't be just on our immediate community," Lisle said. "It will affect traffic and commuters and safety."

The school system has heard these concerns before during many hearings held before the Board of Education, and members say they have addressed them as well as they can, tweaking the design plans to make the school a better fit.

But the citizens group is still worried, and members are not backing down.

On Friday, the group appeared in Howard County Circuit Court challenging exceptions to construction regulations granted for the school by the County Council. There, too, the opposition filed a motion to dismiss the request based on the group's right to make it. The circuit judge said he will rule on the motion soon.

But Judge Yvette N. Diamond, who presided yesterday, did not get that far.

One of the citizens group's attorneys, Allen Dyer, who also represented the group in circuit court, made a last-minute motion to amend the group's complaint by adding two people and their alleged damages.

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"In the interest of fairness and so there's no question of whether parties had the opportunity to be heard," Diamond said, she will first decide whether the amendment can stand before ruling on the motion to dismiss.

Dyer - who became involved late Tuesday after the citizens group realized it needed a Maryland lawyer to supplement the information provided by the Delaware environmental attorney it had hired - will provide a written version of his motion to the opposition by Monday. The opposition will respond by Aug. 29.

Diamond is expected to make a final ruling on the motion to dismiss by Sept. 17.


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