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Did Howard council violate its own unwritten rule?

RentalsLocal GovernmentInterior PolicyKen UlmanPersonal Weapon ControlMartin O'Malley

Howard County Council member Greg Fox experienced deja vu at the council's most recent legislative session.

After making a motion at the Jan. 7 meeting asking the council to override Howard County Executive Ken Ulman's veto on controversial land preservation legislation, Fox received no second. His motion ended there with no support.

Fox said he believed this was only the second time in his six-year council tenure that a motion had gone without a second. The first time was on a motion by — you guessed it — Fox in 2010 supporting a bill to establish a Veterans Commission in the county.

Despite being the only recent council member still waiting for a second, Fox said he understands his place as the council's lone Republican.

"I can't expect nor demand to get a second on everything," he said.

But did the County Council break its own courtesy in leaving Fox's motion go without a second as a local blogger mentioned recently in a online post?

Council members said no.

"It's definitely not an unwritten rule. We've done it before," Council member Calvin Ball said.

Ball added that it is also understood that council members shouldn't bring up a motion if they know they don't have the necessary support

Council member Courtney Watson agreed, saying Fox had no "predetermined second" to his motion.

"We've had situations like this in the past," Watson said. "It's nothing out of the ordinary."

Council chairperson Jen Terrasa said it is generally custom for the council's vice chair (Mary Kay Sigaty) to second any motion, but the council has let motions go without a second before.

"I don't think we were out of custom; it's not inconsistent," she said.

Sigaty was absent from the meeting with the flu.

County trades for Beechcrest

The county government acquired Beechcrest Mobile Home Park, in North Laurel, in September with the intention of closing the 38-unit trailer park to build an apartment building for chronically homeless residents.

At a Jan. 3 meeting with area residents, county officials discussed how the 5.5 acre site was acquired without county dollars.

The county transferred 33 Moderate Income Housing Units (MIHU) from Atapco Properties planned development of Howard Square off Route 1 and Port Capital Drive in Elkridge.

The MIHU program requires developers of new housing in certain districts to sell or rent a percentage of new housing units to households of moderate income.

Atapco's development proposed 1,067 residential units in Howard Square with 252 of the units required to be MIHU. With the transfer approved by the county, Atapco now will be responsible for providing 219 moderate income units.

Tom Carbo, executive director of the Howard County Housing Commission, said the process of transferring MIHU is neither typical nor regular, but it is authorized under the MIHU statute as an alternative compliance.

The transfer was approved at a public meeting by the county's Housing and Community Development Board, Carbo said.

Delegation committee assignments

A pair of Howard County delegates received new assignments in the House of Delegates leadership last week.

Columbia Democrat Del. Guy Guzzone, co-chair of the Howard County Delegation, was named chair of the Public Safety and Administration subcommittee within the Appropriations Committee. Guzzone's subcommittee will be responsible for addressing a portion of Gov. Martin O'Malley's gun control package, including how to fund school safety proposals.

Del. Frank Turner, a Columbia Democrat, was named vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee handling taxation.

Turner previously chaired the Financial Resources subcommittee, which handles gambling.

And finally

As the new county government and politics reporter, I wanted to take some time learning the issues, people and just the overall political landscape here in Howard County before I launched a column.

I'm ready to go and ready for your feedback.

Contact me with any comments or story ideas by email, or you can reach me on Facebook at facebook.com/blair.ames.5 or on Twitter @BlairHoCoTimes.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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RentalsLocal GovernmentInterior PolicyKen UlmanPersonal Weapon ControlMartin O'Malley
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