A citizen-initiated referendum opposing the expansion of a Safeway store in the Carrollton Shopping Center was defeated in a special election this week in New Carrollton.

With the heaviest turnout in any election in the city since 1975, voters confirmed an earlier decision by the city government to support the expansion.

Attorneys for Safeway had requested a special exception to expand the 15-year-old store without adding new parking spaces in the shopping center as required by the county code.

Residents living near the shopping center opposed this expansion because, they said, a larger store and fever parking spaces would create a traffic hazard along the already crowded Rte. 450 fronting the store at 8484 Annapolis Rd.

The vote, 256 against expansion to 360 in support of it, was not seen as a "loss" to Edna Alsop, organizer of the petition drive that led to the special election.

"We got people interested in the question, and I think, in comparison to before, people are now more aware of their city government," Alsop said.

New Carrollton officials were delighted at the voters' response, according to City Administrator John Brunner.

"The growth of Safeway will really enhance the shopping center," Brunner said. "Already six other stores are doing some internal work. This will be a lift for that."

The special exception must still be approved by the County Council before Safeway can begin remodeling.

Alsop said she plans to go before the council to oppose it at that time.