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Howard council tables majority of legislation in first voting session of 2015

Place cards are set up on a table at the ceremony where the new Howard County Council would hold their first session after taking their oaths of office Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 at Glenelg High School in Glenelg.
Place cards are set up on a table at the ceremony where the new Howard County Council would hold their first session after taking their oaths of office Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 at Glenelg High School in Glenelg. (Jon Sham, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

In its first legislative session of 2015, the Howard County Council on Monday night decided to table a majority of the bills and resolutions awaiting a vote this month.

The decision to table, or put legislation on hold, resulted in an unusually short voting session for the council, though councilmembers did take a vote on three resolutions that had been tabled last year.

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All three were appointments: John D. Lederer was reappointed for a five-year term to the Board of Appeals, a quasi-judicial body that hears zoning appeals, while appointments of Judy Harris and E. Randolph Marriner to the Board of Directors of the Economic Development Authority were withdrawn from consideration, because, according to Council Chair Mary Kay Sigaty, both appointees had notified the council they had too many obligations to take on the extra responsibility.

The tabled legislation, which could come up for a vote next month, includes:

  • an amendment to county zoning regulations that would help bring east county agricultural properties into Howard's land preservation easement program;
  • a resolution to approve a payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement between the county and the developer of a mixed-income housing community in Elkridge called Riverwatch;
  • a resolution to transfer approximately 3 acres of land along Guilford Road in Laurel to the Howard County Housing Commission to build a resource center and efficiency apartments for Howard County's homeless citizens; and
  • a resolution to waive advertising and bidding requirements to sell the site of the former Dorsey Run Road composting facility in Jessup to Rock Realty, Inc.

The votes to table each piece of legislation were unanimous. Councilmember Calvin Ball said the council's purpose in delaying final votes was to give the public more time to take a look at each resolution.

"I think we're in the process of transitioning, and this gives us the opportunity to discuss the legislation in an open, transparent way," Ball said.

Some of the resolutions have already generated debate. The Savage Community Association has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday night to discuss the Guilford Road homeless shelter, which Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman plans to attend, according to his office. The meeting, which will also be attended by members of Volunteers of America, Grassroots Crisis Center and the Howard County Housing Authority, will take place at 7 p.m. at Carroll Baldwin Hall in Savage.

Councilmembers also introduced seven new pieces of legislation Monday night, including a resolution approving Phase 1 of a plan to revitalize the Long Reach Village Center.

A public hearing on pending legislation is scheduled for Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the George Howard building in Ellicott City.

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