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With new leadership positions, Ball and Watson come full circle

By Amanda Yeager, ayeager@tribune.com

10:05 AM EST, December 4, 2013

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As the Howard County Council looks ahead to 2014, the last year its current members will serve together as they have since 2006, the body's two top leadership roles are coming full circle.

On Dec. 2, the Council voted to elect Calvin Ball, of District 2, as its chairman and Courtney Watson, who represents District 1, as its vice chairwoman. Both Ball and Watson held their respective positions in the Council's first year together, from 2006 to 2007.

"I think we have a history of working well together," Ball said of Watson. "It worked pretty good then, I think it will work better now."

For Ball, the third time's the charm. He's served as Council chairman twice before, from 2006 to 2007 and then from 2010 to 2011. When he was elected to the position in 2006 at age 31, he was the youngest chairman in the history of the Council.

Watson has served as vice chairwoman of the Council three times before, and twice as chairwoman, from 2007 to 2008 and 2009 to 2010.

Rounding out Council leadership positions, District 4 Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, the outgoing vice-chairwoman, will serve as chairwoman of the Zoning Board and District 5 Council member Greg Fox will chair the Liquor Board for the third consecutive year. Outgoing Council chairwoman Jen Terrasa, who represents District 3, will be vice-chairwoman of both the Zoning Board and the Liquor Board.

Additions to Shipley's Grant community

Though the fate of an historic property at Shipley's Grant in Ellicott City has generated controversy and become embroiled in a citizens' zoning referendum, a surrounding townhouse community by the same name hasn't met with any concern.

No community members showed up to a pre-submission community meeting held Nov. 26 to present planned additions to the existing community of 324 town houses and 72 condos.

The proposal adds 78 units to the current community. Of that total, 65 will be built at the top of the property near Route 100, and another 13 will be built close to Route 108 and bordering the historic Shipley's Grant. Developers plan to add some amenity space to the 65-unit addition.

The project won't change the character of the neighborhood, design engineer Carl Gutschick said.

"The intention is to blend in with the existing Shipley's Grant so it's 100 percent compatible [with the surrounding community]," he said.

The 65 townhouses near Route 100 are on land recently rezoned from office to residential use.

Gutschick said an office development would have generated about 500 cars a day in the area during the work week. A residential development means "far less traffic, and that's probably why people like it better," Gutschick said.

Developer Duncan Slidell, of the Bozzuto Group, said the addition of 13 townhouses could be built by next summer. The other 65 will have to gain approval from the Department of Planning and Zoning and Planning Board, which is generally about an 18-month process.