Westminster's request for board seat denied

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Carroll commissioners rejected yesterday Westminster's request for a voting seat on a regional transportation planning board, a decision the city's mayor called "short-sighted."

The county has one seat - now occupied by Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge - on the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board. County officials said that giving another to Westminster would not accurately reflect the needs of the communities that surround the city.

"More than 48,000 people [outside Westminster] would have their transportation priorities set by the city - which only has 25 percent, or 17,000 people, in that area," said Steven Powell, the county's chief of staff. "We believe those priorities are most appropriately set by the commissioners they elected."

Westminster's mayor said the decision will have a negative effect on the city.

"The transportation board's decisions affect the daily lives of our constituencies," said Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff, who had the support of the Common Council to represent the city on the board as long as the commissioners approved. "I believe in a spirit of cooperation that it would be enormously important for our citizens to have two votes instead of the one vote."

The regional planning board must formally vote to accept or reject Westminster as a voting member, but will likely follow the commissioners' lead, said the board's staff representative, Pete Gutwald.

Dayhoff would like to sit down with the commissioners and try to persuade them to change their minds.

"This board directly impacts our economic development. I believe the commissioners made this decision with a lot of integrity. I believe they believe they're doing the best thing for our shared constituencies," he said.

"But I believe the decision is short-sighted. Perhaps with additional information they would decide that two votes for Carroll County is a win-win for everybody."

Dayhoff added: "We are no longer an island out here in Carroll County."

The board is responsible for transportation planning for the Baltimore metropolitan area and includes county representatives from Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard. Members also include representatives from Baltimore and Annapolis, and from the state's transportation, environment and planning departments.

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