ANNAPOLIS – Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, and Speaker of the House Casper Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, Friday cancelled plans for legislation to stop the sale of land for the proposed Inter-County Connector in an agreement with the Montgomery County Council.
Council members agreed to leave the property alone, Miller said in a news conference, and legislative action would not be needed.
Plans for the ICC, which would connect Interstate 270 in Montgomery County with Interstate 95 in Prince George’s County, were rejected last year by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who said it could damage natural resources and local communities and exacerbate urban sprawl.
Before the arrangement, 30 senators planned to introduce legislation Monday to prohibit the council from selling, converting or transferring the land set aside for the highway, Miller said.
Council President Michael Subin said the council did not have plans for the land and if it approved some, nothing could be carried out until after 2002. Subin wrote a letter to Miller guaranteeing the property will remain untouched.
“We want to put this issue to rest,” Miller said. “If it was going to get settled or resolved, it had to be today.” Monday is the last day to file Senate legislation.
The compromise came after Delegate Richard La Vay, R-Montgomery, and Sen. Jennie Forehand, D-Montgomery, began to draft bills banning ICC property sales. The result was they secured support of 30 senators.
At the press conference Forehand said the agreement demonstrates the power of legislation.
“We feel an obligation to the future,” she said. “There is no way the future could not include this” highway.
The council last year took a stance against the ICC, saying it wouldn’t be built and there was no need to hold the land. That stand put it at odds with County Executive Doug Duncan, who supports building the highway.
At the press conference, Subin called a truce.
“We’ve called a cease fire on all ICC issues,” he said. “The ICC issues are off the table while we look at alternatives.
“There was no deal, just an agreement that we need to focus on the issues,” Subin continued.
Miller said by waiting until 2002 when there will be a new council, new governor and new legislators, there is a stronger chance to save the ICC proposal.
Sen. Ida Rubin, D-Montgomery, said officials now have time to think of environmentally sound ways to resolve gridlock and control sprawl in the county.
When Glendening rejected the proposal for the ICC, hoping to end 40 years of debate, he proposed several alternatives, including building a road from Interstate 370 to State Route 97 and another from U.S. 1 to U.S. 29.
“The administration is happy that the council and leaders have reached a sound agreement,” Raquel Guillory, deputy press secretary for Glendening said. “We will continue to move forward with our proposed transit projects and there will be no sale of any land.”