Baltimore County Digest

Council OKs taking site for Towson park

A plan to condemn the former site of a Shell gas station in Towson won unanimous approval from the Baltimore County Council last night.


Under the plan announced last week by County Executive James T. Smith Jr., the county would condemn about a third of an acre on York Road near the downtown traffic circle and eventually build a public park on the site.

Smith said his administration has offered to buy the property but that negotiations between the government and property owner, Motiva Enterprises, have faltered.


In other action, the council scheduled a Sept. 5 vote on whether to enter negotiations with Verizon Communications on a license that would allow the company to offer cable television service in the county.

The license would determine the percentage of the company's revenue that would go to the government, which areas of the county would be served first, and other terms.

"Tonight the council is poised to open the door to robust cable competition," Verizon spokeswoman Donora L. Dingman.

Dingman told the panel that competition would bring lower cable rates and improved customer service.

After the hearing, two council members said that the vote on whether to enter the discussions was a formality, and that they expect franchise negotiations to take months.

Josh Mitchell


Jury to weigh drug clinic case


Jurors were to begin deliberations today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to decide whether a Baltimore County zoning law prohibiting state-licensed medical facilities from locating in residential neighborhoods discriminates against a Pikesville methadone clinic.

The jury was also to determine whether monetary damages should be awarded to A Helping Hand clinic and three of its patients who filed a civil lawsuit against the county, claiming the 2002 zoning law violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Steven J. Barber, a lawyer for A Helping Hand, told jurors in his closing arguments yesterday that the county has only taken enforcement action against the methadone clinic and that county officials enacted the "emergency legislation" solely to stop the clinic from opening because of misconceptions the community had about methadone treatment.

"When they act on a stereotype, it's discrimination," Barber argued. "We've laid out the history of discrimination in this county."

Paul M. Mayhew, a county attorney, argued yesterday that the county sought, with its 2002 zoning law on state licensed medical facilities, to follow U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake's earlier rulings and federal disability law by not singling out methadone treatment clinics.

"There's nothing nefarious about it," Mayhew said in his closing argument, adding that there were 180 available locations within a mile of A Helping Hand's current location that would not have violated the county's zoning law.


Laura Barnhardt

White Marsh

Motorcyclist dies after hitting truck

A motorcyclist died yesterday morning after a collision with a trash truck near the Baltimore County Eastern Sanitary Landfill, county police said.

Patrick Dwayne Hudson, 38, of the 2800 block of Beckon Drive in Edgewood in Harford County, was riding his 2005 Yamaha V-Star motorcycle eastbound on U.S. 40 about 11:20 a.m. when he hit the truck as it turned left from westbound U.S. 40 onto Days Cove Road, said Cpl. Mike Hill, a county police spokesman.

County police said that both vehicles had the green light, and that it appeared that the driver of the truck violated Hudson's right of way.


Hudson died at the scene, Hill said. The spokesman said yesterday afternoon that police were still investigating the accident.


Third man charged in scheme

A Baltimore County man has been charged as part of an investigation into corruption involving building projects at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the state attorney general's office said yesterday.

Dennis O. Roberts, 55, of Nottingham is accused of involvement in a six-year bribery scheme that included providing home improvements, mobile phone service, golf vacations and cash to a UMBC construction manager who, in exchange, steered projects to Roberts' then-employer, Hayes Construction Co. of Phoenix, according to the attorney general's office.

Roberts is the third person to be charged as part of the investigation, the attorney general's office said. Two others have pleaded guilty to related charges.



Man sought in series of robberies

Baltimore County Police asked yesterday for the public's help in identifying a man who they believe may be responsible for four robberies or attempted robberies in Baltimore County and one in the Highlandtown area of Baltimore.

The man is a suspect in a robbery about 3:30 a.m. June 19 of a Royal Farms store in the 7200 block of York Road in the Towson area, where an undisclosed amount of money and cigarettes were stolen, and in a robbery earlier that morning of a 7-Eleven in the 7200 block of E. Baltimore St. in Highlandtown, county police said.

An investigation shows that the man also may be responsible for the June 18 robbery of a 7-Eleven in the 8600 block of Old Harford Road in Parkville and the July 20 robbery of the Gallo Clothing store in the 900 block of Taylor Ave. and the attempted robbery that day of a Burger King a block away.

The suspect is described as a black man, 18 to 25 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with black, shoulder-length braids, wearing black jeans, a red T-shirt and a white headband.