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Harford County Council: Walmart Move, Traffic Task Force Data & More

Read the play-by-play from Tuesday’s Harford County Council meeting.

Sheriff Jesse Bane held the attention of those in attendance with data regarding traffic safety in Harford County, and residents drew applause in closing the evening with their arguments against a proposed Walmart move in Bel Air.

The first Harford County Council meeting at the Black Box in Bel Air in two years was a busy one.

The following is a recap of the live events as reported Tuesday night from the council chambers:

9:14 p.m.: The meeting adjourns.

9:05 p.m.: Residents continue to speak out against the proposed Walmart move. 

For more on the proposed move, click here.

   » To voice your opinion on the proposed move, post here.

8:30 p.m.: Public comment period begins. 

Bel Air South resident Scott Agar speaks out against Walmart's proposed move to the area near Patterson Mill Middle/High School.

8:25 p.m.: Council members deliver their items of business.

Councilman Dion Guthrie outlined details regarding a plan to outfit council staff with credit cards to use for expenses such as fees to attend banquets and luncheons. Doing so, he said, would save the county $136 for each payment—which represents the fee it would cost to "cut a check" from the county. Credit card use would eliminate that, he said. Card limits would be set at $500.

Councilman James McMahan delivered a touching tribute to Capt. Aaron Thomas Bowden, "a native of this area" who was a member of what McMahan described as "our greatest generation." Capt. Bowden passed away this weekend, McMahan shared.

Councilman Chad Shrodes shared his condolences with an unnamed member of his community in Norrisville. He said a man, who leaves behind a wife and son, died Sunday while helping a relative in Stewartstown, PA.

Council members Richard Slutzky and Lisanti waived their time to speak. Lisanti passed, noting a heavy attendance in the room, presuming many would like to speak.

8:15 p.m.: Boniface is approved by unanimous vote to replace Councilman Joseph Woods as the council representative on the Harford County Library Board. The move was made to free up Woods' schedule for another committee duty.

8:13 p.m.: Mr. Bryan Young is approved by unanimous vote to serve as the people's cousel.

"He has been a young enthusiastic lawyer who has been dedicated to Harford County, quality of life, and is active in the community. It's a pleasure to welcome him aboard in this capacity," Councilman Richard Slutzky said.

Young was in attendance Tuesday, and replaces Lisa Sheehan, who resigned to tend to a family member, as people's attorney.

Boniface thanked Sheehan for her service.

8:10 p.m.: Bill No. 12-57 is approved by unanimous vote.

8:04 p.m.: Resolution 3-13, authorizing the county executive to request state transportation assistance grants, is introduced and adopted by unanimous vote.

7:59 p.m.: Bane's presentation comes to a close.

Councilman Chad Shrodes said the task force will ask for a commission to be created to carry out the goals outlined by the task force presentation.

7:40 p.m.: Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane begins to present an interim report on the Harford County Traffic Safety Task Force.

The task force was created last year, with an interim report required as part of that resolution.

"There is a final report due in June of this year," Bane said.

"Traffic is a problem and will remain on the front-burner in Harford County," Bane said after stating that a commission should be created regarding traffic safety.

The final numbers for 2012 are not available, however, Patch will include details from the interim report in a future post.

"There has been a decrease since 2005 in traffic creashes in Harford County," Bane said. "Also, we’re showing a decrease in persons injured in traffic crashes in Harford County."

7:35 p.m.: Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly emphasized steps to prevent against the flu, including getting vaccinated.

"What we're experiencing this flu season is in line with flu seasons in the past, but the past few seasons have been mild," Kelly said. "The health department wants to emphasize that anyone able to be immunized against the flu ... the health department will have a no-cost flu vaccination clinic Friday here in the council chambers.

"We will be vaccinating all ages," Kelly said.

"It's probably 60 to 65 percent effective," she said. "It's the best protection you have against getting the flu."

For more on the vaccination clinic, click here.

7:30 p.m.: The legislative session is underway.

7:17 p.m.: The public hearing closes. The legislative session will begin at 7:30 p.m.

7:10 p.m.: Bill No. 12-59, regarding "Appropriation — Hurricane Sandy and FY 2013 unanticipated weather-related expenses," involves $1,200,000 split between three funds. Those funds are: the general fund, the highway fund and the water and sewer fund.

Kathryn Hewitt of the finance department said: "FEMA did declare this as a disaster. We do anticipate getting money back from FEMA on the qualified approved expenses. A portion of this money will be coming back into the county from FEMA, and that’s up to 75 percent of the approved expenses. That’s not addressed in this bill."

7:02 p.m.: The first bill under discussion is Bill No. 12-58, regarding Local Management Board Membership Requirements.

Lisanti asks if its possible to add a representative for the council to the board. Boniface asks to have that drawn into the bill, which will not be moved Tuesday.

7 p.m.: The public hearing regarding two bills is underway.

6:48 p.m.: The presentation comes to a close. A public hearing on two bills will open at 7 p.m.

6:45 p.m.: The county's recycling rate is at 59 percent, Ernst said.

"We’ve hit our own recycling fliff here,” Ernst said, pointing out a flatline in the rise of the rate over recent years. 

Ernst said the rate has declined slightly with a downturn in commercial recycling.

The county began curbside recycling pick-up in 1992. In 2011, the county completed its first year of single-stream recycling. Since then, there has been a 40-percent increase in recycling.

The lawn and garden recycling center processes 800 materials per week.

"We take this material into the facility in Street at no charge and process quite a bit of that material, especially at this time of the year, because we take in Christmas trees," Smithberger said.

In 2011, residents recycled 25,000 Christmas trees.

Patch will outline the recycling plan further in a future post.

Following the presentation, Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti said: "It does my heart good driving through the community and seeing the recycling bins so big and the trash bins so small."

Harford County has "slipped to No. 2” in the state in recycling, Burnst said. 

Montgomery County is currently the top recycling county in the state, he said. 

Council President Billy Boniface replied: “We can out-do them. Let’s make that a goal.”

Boniface added: “You guys have probably one of the most important programs in the county.”

6:30 p.m.: The annual review of the county's recycling plan is underway.

On hand to present an overview of the plan:

  • Tom Hilton, Deputy Director of Environmental Services
  • Jeff Smithberger, Chief of Solid Waste
  • Bob Ernst, Recycling Program Manager
  • Jessica Green, Recycling Program Coordinator

6:15 p.m.: Welcome to our live coverage of tonight's Harford County Council meeting. We'll provide updates as frequently as possible.

The full agenda can be found here.

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a discussion regarding the county's recycling plan, followed by public hearing on two bills at 7 p.m. The legislative session begins at 7:30 p.m.

To contact Patch, email harfordcountymd@patch.com.


Follow HarfordCoPatch on Twitter for breaking news around the county. 

Ed Baranowski January 16, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Bob Ernst is a good man who takes Solid Waste and the Single Stream programs very seriously. I work for the Maryland Environmental Service where we receive Harford's used mattresses. I worked with Bob when Coale Truck Transport hauled the "blue bags" to MES many years ago. I just wished we had that Transfer Station in Joppa. Sure beats the hour drive to Scarborough Rd. from this side of the county. Ed Baranowski - Weighmaster MES
Kristy Walcutt January 16, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Recycling is and always should have been a great thing to do. I beg to differ on the traffic issues. I have lived in this county since 1965 right off of Bel Air Road in a wonderful community of smaller homes; it was a pleasant and safe place to live and drive. Now we cannot get on or off of Bel Air Road without fearing for our lives! TRULY! The traffic between Mt. Rd./Bel Air Road and Kingsville has become an area of "No holds barred" in driving speeds, careless accidents that have killed or mamed MANY. Just how many people have to die on this stretch of road before it really becomes an issue for SOMEONE TO TAKE ACTION? Our county AT VERY LEAST OWES US A LITTLE PROTECTION from the SPEEDWAY that it has become. PLEASE!!!!!

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