ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland House of Delegates gave preliminary approval Tuesday to designating South Mountain a state battlefield, but not before a debate over entrance fees.
A Montgomery County, Md., lawmaker wanted to limit the fee to $2, the same fee charged at Antietam National Battlefield visitor's center, arguing that the public should have unlimited access to the hallowed ground.
Without a cap, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources can set fees to cover the costs of operating the battlefield. Anything left over would go to the state's general fund, he said.
"Let's not turn this into an opportunity to raise taxes," said Del. Dana Lee Dembrow, D-Montgomery.
Dembrow's proposal failed by a vote of 37 to 87, with all six Washington County delegates opposed.
"The amendment was well-intentioned, but it wasn't necessary," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.
Local lawmakers said they weren't worried about fees being excessive.
Most of the park will be open for picnicking. The fee would apply only to a museum or visitors center, Shank said.