County committed to new radio emergency system
Howard County is committed to building an emergency radio system that will equal those in surrounding counties and has committed $22 million and expects to spend at least $5 million more before the system is complete in two years, said Alan Ferragamo, deputy county public works director.
Aside from the 400-foot-tall antenna towers the system requires, the public won't see much of it. But people who wanted to learn more attended a meeting Monday night at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City. Police Chief Wayne Livesay and retiring Fire Chief James Heller were there, with other officials, to answer questions.
The county also has submitted a resolution to the County Council seeking setback variances for three of the towers.
Council focuses on cutting Board of Appeals backlog
If voters approve, Howard County may get a new hearing officer to cut a backlog of cases awaiting action by the part-time Board of Appeals.
A resolution asking voters to allow the five-member County Council to create such a position is to be introduced tomorrow. If it is approved by four council votes, the charter change will appear on the November ballot.
The board has a tremendous workload right now, said Board of Appeals Chairman Robert C. Sharps. Cases are scheduled through mid-October, and some take months to be fully heard.
Council Chairwoman Mary C. Lorsung, a west Columbia Democrat, said she and co-sponsor Guy J. Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat, want a hearing examiner to handle uncontested, routine cases, freeing the five-member board as many as 20 nights a year.
Statue of Columbia founder to be put on public display
James W. Rouse's bronze statue - the one stuck in a storage closet in a Columbia office building for months - will be coming out of the gloom.
The slightly larger than life statue of Columbia's founder and one depicting his brother have been sold to the Columbia Association, their former owners announced Monday.
"They're picking them up any day, and they're not sure where they're going to put them or what they're going to do with them yet," said Chuck Breitenother, vice president of CB Richard Ellis, who negotiated with the association.
The association's acting president, Chick Rhodehamel, said officials bought the statues for $10,000. He plans to give Columbia residents some power in deciding where the pair will go, but it will "absolutely" be a public place, Rhodehamel said.
Judge paves the way for county farm purchase
In a major victory for Howard County officials, a judge has paved the way for them to purchase a 300-acre farm in the heart of Columbia and turn it into a regional park.
Howard County Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. threw out a lawsuit Friday that has delayed the county from developing Blandair Farm for almost two years.
The county bought the land in November 1998 from heirs of Elizabeth C. "Nancy" Smith, but the purchase was contingent on the resolution of a lawsuit filed earlier by an Ohio physics teacher, one of Smith's longtime friends.
That friend, Byron C. Hall, filed the suit to preserve the land and prevent the sale.
Guilford church expansion could begin this fall
First Baptist Church of Guilford is looking to begin construction by fall on what would be the largest church in Howard County.
Opponents still hope to limit the expansion, after a battle that has lasted two years.
Some of the 200 church members at the Tuesday night meeting of the county Board of Appeals prayed, while the board deliberated for an hour and a half before unanimously approving the church's petition for expansion. Its plans call for 1,502 seats and 536 parking spaces. Neighbors plan to appeal the decision, said Kari Ebeling, president of the Oak Ridge Homeowners Association.