Howard citizen petitioners submit final round of signatures

Members of a group of citizens concerned about the county's recently passed comprehensive zoning bill submitted the final round of signatures from their petition drive to the Howard County Board of Elections Monday, according to group chair Lisa Markovitz. 

Since September, the Citizens Working to Fix Howard County have been circulating a petition calling for referendum of certain items in the comprehensive zoning bill that they say brings too much density to communities throughout the county, including Maple Lawn, Savage, Clarksville and Elkridge. The group is also concerned about text amendments relating to farming and soil amendments, as well as the carry-over of certain piecemeal zoning decisions.

Markovitz said in an email that the group had collected nearly 7,000 signatures, including the first round they submitted in early October. "This last week, people literally came up to us asking to sign," she said.

She said she thought most of the signatures would be approved by the Board of Elections: "Our error rate is... very low, even lower than last time, so we fully expect to be verified." Board of Elections staff have 20 days from the date the signatures were submitted to verify them. 

If the group is able to get at least 5,390 signatures approved, the petition items will be eligible to be put on the ballot in the form of a referendum question that Howard County citizens can vote up or down in the November 2014 general election. But Markovitz and other observers expect there will be legal challenges to the petition's validity before then.

"We will have to see how the legal battles go," Markovitz said.

But, she added, "It's been a wonderful experience meeting so many citizens and hearing their concerns."

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