Baltimore County extends pilot program to crack down on college parties

A Baltimore County pilot program meant to crack down on unruly parties in Towson will be extended through 2022.

Under the law, first passed by the County Council in early 2016, offenders face fines and community service, while their landlords can be fined and eventually lose their rental license if their tenants are cited for repeated offenses.

The “social host” program was scheduled to expire early in 2018. At the council’s meeting Monday in Towson, members voted 7-0 to extend the law another five years.

“Our first priority as a County Council is to do whatever is needed to preserve the peace of mind and security of our neighbors,” said Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson. Marks had proposed the program initially, and also sponsored the bill to extend it.

“It is not just a public safety issue, but also a private property rights issue, since disruptive incidents over many years devalue homes and destabilize whole neighborhoods,” he said.

Under another change approved Monday, the ordinance now will apply to all areas encompassed by the county police department’s Towson precinct. Previously, a number of neighborhoods were included, but not the entire precinct.

Marks said the change was made in response to neighborhoods that wanted to be included under the ordinance, and also to simplify the boundaries.

Although originally aimed at Towson University, the law also was applied later to an area near the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. It says gatherings of four or more people can be cited for behavior that causes “substantial disturbance of the peace and quiet enjoyment of private or public property.”

In another unanimous vote, the council approved a measure from Councilman Wade Kach, a Cockeysville Republican, to increase fines — from $50 to $130 — for illegal parking on a stretch of Monkton Road near the Gunpowder River. The bill stemmed from complaints about illegal parking by summertime visitors who are in the area for tubing and other recreational activities.

Council members also voted 7-0 in favor of a bill sponsored by Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a Middle River Democrat, that will allow residential use in a manufacturing zone adjacent to White Marsh’s commercial district.

“The 2020 master plan identifies White Marsh as one of the largest centers in the county for job creation,” Bevins said. “This bill essentially is going to allow residential to go within the White Marsh town center.”

An amendment by Democrats Julian Jones of Woodstock and Vicki Almond of Reisterstown will allow Bevins’ bill to apply to a similarly zoned district in Owings Mills.

The council also approved a resolution asking the county health department and other agencies to make recommendations for legislative action “to combat the ever-increasing opioid crisis.” A report is due in six months.

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