If the City of New Carrollton annexes the communities of West Lanham, West Lanham Hills and the area known as the Metro Triangle, only commercial businesses in those areas will be faced with additional taxes contrary to an assertion in a story in Wednesday's editions. The area known as "Metro East" is in the Metro Triangle, which is an unincorporated development area bordered by Rte. 50, the Beltway and the Metro-Amtrak rail line, adjacent to New Carrollton.
The City of New Carrollton's mayor and City Council violated a 1977 Maryland law by holding closed meetings to discuss annexation of two adjacent residential communities, a Circuit Court judge ruled yesterday.
In upholding the state's so-called sunshine law, Judge Perry G. Bowen ruled that "there was a tacit and well-understood agreement between all concerned that no mention (of annexation plans) be made... The business of this annexation was in fact transacted at meetings which were not open to the public."
The suit against New Carrollton was filed by five local businessmen and citizens in an attempt to block the annexation by the city of West Lanham and West Lanham Hills, which includes the area known as Metro East, a multimillion-dollar commercial, industrial and hotel complex under development.
The judge did not indicate yesterday whether he is prepared to block the annexation, instead reserving judgment on what type of relief the plaintiffs are entitled to until after he meets on Friday with attorneys in the case.
"The court is prepared to take the smallest amount of action that you can convince us is necessary to correct the 'evils' found," Bowen said.
The sunshine law that Bowen said was violated by Mayor Jordan L. Harding and the five-member city Council was part of the Maryland Public Information Act of 1977. It was designed to ensure that most meetings of public bodies are open to the public.
The annexation that is sought would give New Carrollton an estimated $241,000 a year in additional tax revenue beginning in 1983. It would also mean higher taxes for property owners.
The last step in the annexation procedure is scheduled for March 17, when citizens of the communities proposed for annexation vote on the plan. It the court permits the annexatioi process to proceed and if the voters approve it, annexation would become effective 15 days after the vote.
Mayor Harding testified tht city officials handling the annexation proposal "palyed it close to the chest becuse that's the way you handle sensitive real estate matters."
Asked if his intention had been to keep the annexation project a secret, he replied: "Emphatically no."