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Howard County looking for another site to build apartments for homeless

Howard County will "most likely" drop its plans to build an apartment building for the chronically homeless at the site of the Beechcrest Mobile Home Park, in North Laurel, according to county spokesman Mark Miller.

The Howard County Housing Commission acquired the 5.5-acre mobile home park, located north of Whiskey Bottom Road along Route 1, in September from Atapco Properties, and planned to build between 33 and 50 one-room apartments for the chronically homeless.

But residents at the 38-unit mobile home park complained that they were being unfairly forced out, and nearby residents expressed concern that a homeless shelter would bring crime and drug use to the area.

Miller said that the Beechrest site still was an option, but acknowledged it was not probable.

Bibi Perotte-Foston, president of the North Laurel Civic Association, said it was "really nice" the county is considering other options because the homeless complex would not have helped revitalize Route 1.

"This would have really devitalized the area," she said.

Perotte-Foston and a handful of North Laurel residents recently met with Howard County Executive Ken Ulman to discuss the project.

She said the group proposed alternative sites, including off Guilford Drive in Savage by the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Miller said the county "did not want to get into specifics right now about other pieces of property."

The county had offered to provide relocation assistance to Beechcrest residents, which would have equaled at least 10 months' rent.

Howard County Council chairwoman Jen Terrasa will attend the North Laurel Civic Association meeting Thursday, Feb. 21, along with other county officials to discuss the county's plans for the mobile home park. The meeting will be held at the North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, at 7 p.m.

Kittleman's rule change falls flat

Maryland Senate committee hearings are recorded and posted online, except when senators begin to vote.

Howard County Republican Sen. Allan Kittleman wanted to change that this year.

His senate colleagues did not.

The Senate voted 41-6 last week to reject Kittleman's proposal that would have required "all committee hearings and voting sessions be audio recorded unless otherwise directed by the committee chairman."

Kittleman didn't expect the measure to pass, especially after the Senate Rules committee recommended rejecting it. He was, however, surprised the vote was so overwhelming.

He said he proposed the rule change to make the Senate more "transparent and open," especially for residents who can't travel to Annapolis and attend hearings.

"People want to know what we're doing as their elected representative," he said. "If we want an informed populous and informed citizenry, we need to be willing to be open."

Kittleman said he plans to propose the rule change again next year.

"I think the more sunshine the better," Kittleman said.

Kittleman was joined in voting for the rule change by Republicans David Brinkley, George Edwards, Joseph Getty, Barry Glassman and Nancy Jacobs.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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