Tiny Arundel town blames lost status on glitch


A statistical glitch may have made Port Tobacco the smallest town in Maryland, says the mayor of Highland Beach, a tiny Anne Arundel County community that held the position a decade ago.

"I think we are still the smallest, despite what the figures indicate," said Herbert A. Scurlock, mayor of the waterfront town southeast of Annapolis.

The 1990 census indicates that Highland Beach's population skyrocketed from eight in 1980 to 102 last year. But Mr. Scurlock says the town's population has merely doubled to about 16.

The mayor thinks a census taker erroneously included the nearby unincorporated areas of Bay Highlands and Venice Beach in Highland Beach's population. But when the time came for Highland Beach to challenge the Census Bureau's count, the little town kept mum.

And so Highland Beach's official population is likely to stand at 102 until the next census in the year 2000, census officials say.

Mr. Scurlock said he wasn't disappointed that Highland Beach is no longer the state's smallest town.

"It wasn't really a point of pride," he said.

The mayor, along with three of the four town commissioners, is not even counted as a resident of Highland Beach. His permanent home is Columbia, where he runs a home burglar alarm company. Highland Beach is his weekend retreat.

By 2000, Mr. Scurlock expects, Highland Beach will be bigger than Port Tobacco.

"We're becoming suburban Annapolis," the mayor said.

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