MARYLAND

Columbia Board Rejects Rouse Project

The Columbia Association decided yesterday not to expand its borders by annexing a controversial 665-acre tract, signaling a split with the company that founded the planned community and indicating that the residential portion of Columbia is nearly done.

For months, the association, the nonprofit corporation that oversees the Howard County community of 87,000, had been negotiating with the Rouse Co. about whether to annex the development, called the Key property. But yesterday, the association's board of directors voted 7 to 3 to reject Rouse's latest offer and then could not reach consensus on a counteroffer.

Rouse officials said they would go ahead with the development, which would have 1,200 homes and 2 million square feet of commercial space. Opponents argued that it would not meld with the rest of Columbia because it is not contiguous and would have a Laurel mailing address.

Proponents of the plan, however, disputed that contention and said the development would bring in much-needed revenue from property assessments. The Rouse Co. founded Columbia in 1967.

Crews Battle Arundel Construction Fire

A five-alarm fire was burning out of control late last night at a town house development under construction near Annapolis, Anne Arundel County fire officials said.

About 80 firefighters were battling the blaze at the development on Harbor Heights Drive, according to county fire department division chief John Scholz. He said the fire, which broke out about 7:30 p.m., had affected four of about 15 units.

Grantsville Plant to Bring 800 Jobs

Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) announced Monday that ClosetMaid Corp. will build a manufacturing plant in Grantsville, Garrett County, that will add 800 jobs in Western Maryland, which has lagged behind much of the rest of the state's economic boom.

The company manufactures wire shelving, hardware and storage products. The facility is expected to open next fall.

THE DISTRICT

2 Teens Injured in St. Albans Lab Fire

Two 16-year-olds at St. Albans School for Boys in Northwest Washington sustained second-degree burns to the face, neck and chest yesterday when a beaker filled with methyl alcohol exploded during a chemistry class, school officials said.

The incident occurred about 8 a.m. during a demonstration by chemistry teacher Leslie George involving the suspension of metal ions in methyl alcohol over a flame, officials said. A beaker filled with methyl alcohol was too close to the flame and exploded, starting a small fire and spraying two students seated in the front row of the first-period class.

George, who was not injured, immediately put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, said Gregory A. Rixon, the school's director of public affairs.

The students were taken to Washington Hospital Center, where they were treated for the burns and were in good condition, hospital officials said. They were transferred to Children's Hospital, Washington Hospital Center officials said. The students were not identified.

Capital Commission Moving to New Digs

The National Capital Planning Commission is moving its offices next week to 401 Ninth St. NW, North Lobby, Suite 500.

Because of the move, the Dec. 7 meeting has been rescheduled for Dec. 14. The new offices are across the street from the current offices, and the telephone number, fax number, e-mail and Web site will stay the same.

Parking Enforcement to Go on Holiday

District residents expecting out-of-town guests for Thanksgiving won't have to worry about their relatives and friends getting tickets for parking too long on zoned residential streets. Parking enforcement will be suspended on Thanksgiving. District residents will have to hold on to their trash and recyclables a little longer, however, because normal Thursday trash and recycling collection also will be suspended tomorrow, according to the D.C. Department of Public Works.

Regular parking enforcement will resume Friday and Saturday. Streets that normally have their trash and recycling collected Thursday will have it collected Friday; streets that normally have Friday pickup will have collections Saturday.

VIRGINIA

Panel Gives SOL Tests High Marks

A panel of outside testing experts has concluded that Virginia's Standards of Learning exams meet nationally accepted standards for reliability.

The six-member SOL Test Technical Advisory Committee, which was appointed by the state Board of Education, said in a report to the board yesterday that the state and its contractor have followed standard procedures in developing and implementing the state's testing program.

The panel recommended several areas for further study. For example, it suggested that the state look more closely at whether the SOL program is improving education and increasing parental involvement in schools.

Fairfax, School Board Join to Save Park

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax School Board have reached an agreement on a deal that will preserve a piece of land near Inova Fairfax Hospital as a park.

The land, known as Pine Ridge Park, is owned by the school system and has never been formally set aside as parkland. The land's future has been uncertain as school officials considered whether to sell or develop the property.

In the past year, the two boards have clashed over the property, with the school system demanding adequate compensation for giving the land to the county's park authority.

The supervisors voted unanimously Monday to transfer from the county to the school system ownership of the land where the school administration building sits. In return, the county park authority will get the Pine Ridge land. In addition, supervisors agreed to contribute about $6.2 million in debt payments for the school system next year.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"There are 80,000 uninsured citizens in the District, and we need a hospital owned by the District as a safety net. They are absolutely turning their backs on the poor."

-- Henry Nicholas, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, opposing a plan to seek private bids for services now provided by D.C. General Hospital. -- Page B1