Agricultural preservation

Besides hearings on several properties to be bought by the county for its agricultural preservation program, the council also accepted a donation of the roughly 32-acre Stephen Pieper family farm into the program, which is the first such donation made since the county made the option available, legislative liaison Nancy Giorno said.

Council President Billy Boniface noted the owner does get some tax benefits, however.

The farm, on Troyer Road in White Hall, has three development rights and includes another 8-acre parcel with one more development right.

"The reason it's being done is he's surrounded by all ag [preservation] farms," Giorno said, adding the farm would never rank high enough to qualify for being purchased by the county.

New business

The council appointed James Antal to the board for the Office on Mental Health.

It also introduced several bills, including another piece of legislation dealing with properties near the Magnolia Road Waste-to-Energy Facility, for which Councilman Dion Guthrie has been trying to get property tax credits.

Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti talked about the seven county ballot questions on the recent election ballot, saying the "most significant" was the lifting of the moratorium on council members working with the public on zoning cases.

She thanked "the electorate for supporting the council on those ballot questions."

Councilman Dick Slutzky said November is American Indian Heritage Month and the county has American Indian residents.

"We recognize the invaluable contributions of Native Americans to the state of Maryland," he said.

He also congratulated both the winners and losers of the recent election, saying: "It takes a choice for democracy to work and we certainly have opportunities in this nation for people to have a choice."

The council proclaimed School Psychology Awareness Week, which prompted Burbey to note that the proclamation only recognizes the 33 employees who are school psychologists.

"There are 54 schools. What about the other schools?" he said, highlighting the absence of psychologists from all schools.

He also again pointed out that Harford County "ranks ninth in term of overall achievement" and hoped for better from the council in the future.

"In the past, education has not been the number one priority here," he said.