Lawmakers try to mend fences for battlefield

April 07, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County lawmakers tried Thursday to work out their differences with a powerful Baltimore County senator who could try to kill their South Mountain Battlefield bill.

Sen. Michael J. Collins had tried to convince local lawmakers to vote for legislation to allow Baltimore County to condemn private property for an upscale waterfront redevelopment.

Collins, D-Baltimore/Harford, argued it was an issue of local courtesy for them to vote for the Baltimore County bill.

But most Washington County lawmakers voted against it, saying they felt it set a dangerous precedent statewide.

Now the South Mountain bill is before Collins' committee, Economic and Environmental Affairs.

The bill had a hearing in the committee Thursday, but Collins said he has not decided whether he will support it. He could ask to have the bill held indefinitely.

Earlier in the day, Collins met with Delegates Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, and David Brinkley, R-Frederick/Carroll.


"We had a nice discussion. I'm hopeful that he'll support our bill," Shank said.

At the hearing, lawmakers testified about the tourism potential that would be result from developing the battlefield park along the border of Frederick and Washington counties.

The bill also would help protect the battlefield, which was the scene of an important Civil War battle. "Our society will be judged on how we preserve the sacrifices our ancestors made," Shank said.

About 2,500 acres are owned by the state and another 4,000 are protected by conservation easements.

There was no money in Gov. Parris Glendening's 2001 budget to operate or develop the park. The bill would allow the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to charge a fee to recover its costs.

"If we can get tourists to come, it will be an economic boost," testified Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington. Collins asked Munson if it were important to the county's well-being.

When Munson answered yes, Collins said, "We had a little bill in the Senate a few weeks ago that was important to my county and my district and you didn't vote for it."

Munson said his constituents asked him to vote against the bill before it became controversial. He reminded Collins that the bill had passed the House and Senate.

"You can afford to be magnanimous in victory," Munson said after the hearing.

Munson, who has served with Collins in the General Assembly for more than 20 years, said he doesn't think the senator will kill the bill.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, one of two local lawmakers who voted for the Baltimore County bill, said he talked to the Baltimore County Administration to drum up support for the South Mountain bill.

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