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Abingdon Community Council discusses shopping center, welcomes new members

BY KAYLA BAWROSKI, kabawroski@theaegis.com

11:21 PM EDT, July 25, 2011

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Plans for the Box Hill Shopping Center have changed slightly, according to members of the Abingdon Community Council.

Cynthia Hergenhahn, chairperson of the group, announced at Monday's meeting that plans for two independent buildings, each proposed at approximately 40,000 square feet, had changed.

Hergenhahn, who attended a meeting at the Walter & Betty Ward YMCA building in early July for the shopping center, said the Bob Ward Company was interested in changing the two separate buildings into one, 84,000-square-foot building.

They wouldn't, however, disclose what was planned there, she said, because they won't get a signed lease until the move is presented at a zoning hearing and approved by the county council.

"They won't verify until they have a signed lease," she added.

Another member, Earl Grey, did say he had done research and Walmart buildings require at least 100,000 square feet, if not more, so that would not be an option there.

Hergenhahn, too, said Wegmans would not allow another grocery store nearby.

The community council also welcomed two new members that evening, Valerie Nozea and Michael Galumbeck.

County Councilman Joseph Woods also attended the meeting, with good news from the governor's office. Earlier this year, he said after the meeting, Gov. Martin O'Malley was proposing to cut jobs at the Maryland Aviation Administration.

Although Woods said he wasn't sure how many employees the state was proposing to cut or simply empty positions would not be filled, he did contact the governor's office warning him that if the state cut positions in the fire department, which serves the BWI Airport, it would affect neighboring counties, including Harford.

In the case of a major event, he said, "counties get sucked in to handle it."

After meeting with an aide of the governor's, Woods said he was informed the layoffs had been taken off the table, and while he thinks there will still be some reductions, Woods said he did not think it would be in the fire or police departments.

Woods also brought news that he had invited the new school board member in the Fallston area, Cassandra Beverley, to the community council meetings and to take a trip with him around the area so he could point out school issues in particular areas.

Sheriff's deputy Mark Logsdon handed out a crime prevention checklist at the meeting and briefly discussed crime activity in Abingdon. In terms of house break-ins, he said, in reference to two in the police blotter, a majority were relatives breaking into to other relatives' houses to steal and pawn items for drugs.

He also asked attendees to call if they saw teenagers loitering or if there were fireworks in the neighborhood. In response to a gang-related question from Nozea, Logsdon said there are gangs in Harford County, including Abingdon.

"It's not just the lower end of Harford County," he said. "It's all throughout the county."

Capt. Christopher Swain, too, commented, saying that they weren't aware of any serious gang problems in Abingdon.

Also at the meeting, Emergency Operations Manager Rick Ayers gave a brief presentation on safety practices in an emergency, including keeping records in one place for easy accessibility in an evacuation and developing a safety plan in case cell phones don't work.

The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Abingdon library; the topic will be the 2012 Master Plan.