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Ban considered on plastic bags

That standard checkout-line question, "Plastic or paper?" could be rendered moot in the state capital and Baltimore under ordinances being proposed to reduce litter and protect the environment.

The Baltimore and Annapolis city councils are scheduled to hear legislation that would outlaw common plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing shops and other retailers.

Baltimore and Annapolis are joining a handful of cities questioning the wisdom of widespread use of the bags. Boston, Santa Cruz, Calif., and Portland, Ore., are also considering bans. In April, San Francisco became the first city to enact a partial ban on certain types of plastic bags.

Supporters of the bans say that manufacturing plastic bags squanders nonrenewable resources such as natural gas and crude oil - upward of 12 million barrels of oil each year.

Add to that the nuisance of the bags blowing along roads or hanging from trees, and the danger they present to aquatic life when they end up in waterways.

Those in the pro-plastic camp contend that the bags are not only reusable and recyclable, but are a better environmental choice and require comparatively little space in landfills. And plastic bags are also much cheaper.

Under the proposed Annapolis ordinance, scheduled to be introduced July 9, all stores would have to issue recyclable paper bags, or customers would have to provide their own reusable bags. Retailers would face up to $500 in fines for issuing plastic bags.

A section, Friday


Police burst into wrong apartment

Wearing masks and carrying rifles, Annapolis police officers attempting to execute a search warrant broke down the door of an apartment, set off a percussion grenade that released smoke and a flash of light and noise, and kicked one occupant in the groin.

Then they realized that they were at the wrong address.

The botched raid startled a Salvadoran immigrant couple with limited English who were cooking dinner. They thought their home was being burglarized when about a dozen police officers converged on their Annapolis apartment about 8:20 p.m. Wednesday.

A section, Friday


Priest resigns over his pay

The pastor of a Roman Catholic parish in northern Anne Arundel County has stepped down after church officials concluded that he persuaded lay leaders to pay him more money than the Archdiocese of Baltimore allows.

The Rev. Domenic L. Cieri, who led St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Severn for nearly 15 years, received salary and Mass stipends above the scales approved by the archdiocese, according to an audit conducted in October. Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said Cieri also received a housing allowance to live in Baltimore County, although his parish has a rectory.

Known as "Father Nick" to his congregation, Cieri resigned May 29. The 54-year-old priest sent a letter to parishioners stating he planned to resign to take a leave of absence after discussions with laity and the archdiocesan leaders about "differences regarding fiscal policies."

Maryland section, Thursday

Annapolis Neck

Council approves extensive rezoning

Over the objections of the lawmaker representing the Annapolis Neck and amid accusations of ulterior motives, the Anne Arundel County Council has approved the first extensive rezoning of the peninsula in a decade.

The zoning package rezones 600 acres south of Forest Drive to stop further residential growth, codifying a growth plan that residents approved four years ago. But the Republican-majority council went against the local councilman, Annapolis Democrat Josh Cohen, and County Executive John R. Leopold to rezone three properties along Bestgate Road, a move that critics say might open the gates to a proliferation of retail and office space along the congested corridor.

The council also refused to alter the zoning allowing an undefined commercial project on a 6-acre parcel on Bay Ridge Road, known as the Samaras property, though residents had negotiated for months with the family representatives to win environmental and design concessions.

Anne Arundel section, Wednesday


Garden to replace naval dairy farm

Anne Arundel County will seek to convert the former Naval Academy Dairy Farm into a community garden and botanical garden after its bid for the prized 857 acres won initial approval Monday.

The county has offered to pay $240,000 a year for 30 years and will begin exclusive lease negotiations with the Navy on June 25, said Navy spokesman John S. Verrico. If a final agreement is reached, the county will solicit ideas from the public on the future of the Gambrills farm.

Maryland section, Tuesday

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