BY BRYNA ZUMER, firstname.lastname@example.org
3:15 PM EST, November 27, 2012
Improvements to the Havre de Grace High School field facilities got the blessing of the Harford County Council last week, after supporters of the high school spent a long time urging the council to approve funding for the project.
The council voted Nov. 20 to give $313,770 from the capital budget, for the fiscal year ending in 2013, for facilities to be built at the school's stadium.
The bill passed unanimously without real discussion from council members.
In recent months, several Havre de Grace area residents have spoken at county council meetings as well as school board meetings about the improvements at Havre de Grace High School's James R. Harris Stadium.
David Glenn, a Havre de Grace City Councilman and a Havre de Grace High School graduate, told the county council earlier this month that it would allow the school to have a "bona fide concession stand" and replace its portable toilets.
He said he hoped he could count on the council's support.
Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty and Police Chief Teresa Walter were also in the audience earlier in November, but did not speak.
A public hearing on a bill to define "animal shelter" in county code drew several supporters to the meeting, including a number of people wearing red Humane Society shirts in support of the organization.
The bill establishes setbacks and specifies that the minimum lot size for an animal shelter must be 20 acres in a district zoned for agriculture and two acres in business districts.
The Humane Society of Harford County has been looking to grow its facilities and already had $6 million approved by the council for design and construction of a new shelter.
Councilman Jim McMahan said he was "just concerned" about where animal shelters would be put and about the possibility of neighbors being annoyed by issues such as barking dogs.
David Fang, head of the humane society, told the council he was grateful for the belief it had in the organization and thanked council members for the opportunity.
He said the bill maintains the same setback requirements that kennels have and includes conditions such as having places for animals to run around.
Fang noted the animal shelter has been in its location on Connolly Road in Fallston since 1947.
"We took a step back, we looked inside ourselves and we accepted the challenge," he said, explaining the county has never before had a classification for an animal shelter.
Joan Hamilton, of the Abingdon Community Council, said all the problems she heard about with kennels and "puppy mills" could be done under existing laws.
She said she was "very impressed" that the humane society has gone "through all these hoops over and over again" to do what is considered "normal" in this day and age.
Council President Billy Boniface thanked those who attended the meeting and said the council would vote on the bill in December.
Also approved at the meeting were several ag preservation bills, changing the easement priority ranking system and re-appropriating $3 million to the agricultural land preservation fund.
The ranking system bill revises the maximum points possible a property can get for family conveyances, consistency with the land use plan and farm size and generally relating to the easement priority ranking system.
The state recently required Harford County, as it has all jurisdictions, to approve the Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation Act that changes how land use is prioritized in the county in an attempt to better cluster development.
Two bond bills were also approved, allowing the county to borrow up to $2.5 million for the projects at the Bill Bass Pump Station, Green Ridge Pump Station and the Oaklyn Manor/Joppa area sewer and to borrow up to $36.3 million for eight projects, including the county's Metro Area Network, a new Emergency Operations Center complex and the humane society.