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County Council Storms Through Bills in Summer Session

The Harford County Council meets tonight at the A.A. Roberty Building

Members of the Harford County Council had a busy evening Tuesday, approving a new Director of the Office of Information and Communication Technology. They also passed a number of bills, resolutions and amendments.

The IT promotion is more of a technicality. Justus Eapen served was already serving as director for two years, but the department was elevated to cabinet level.

There were several bond bills on the agenda—among them, two amendments to bills previously approved. Bill 11-25 is a general obligation bond bill that will reallocate funds left over from capital projects, due to the projects’ reduced costs. Bill 11-26 does the same with funds allocated for various water and sewer projects.

See below for a full timeline of the session.

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8:53 p.m. The meeting is adjourned.

8:42 p.m. In comments from citizens, Ruth RhyMaun of Bel Air said she is concerned about stores—especially big-box and adult stores—being allowed close to homes, cemeteries and churches. She says with all that’s coming with BRAC, there’s nothing to protect schools and residents from development.

She’s speaking about a Wal-Mart rumored to be coming to Bel Air. She says that would be three Wal-Marts within four square miles. She wonders, “What will happen to the businesses on Main Street?”

She’d like an overlay district between certain kinds of stores and every school, church and cemetery. She’d also like a lighting requirement restricting the wattage of lighting that stores can use.

Boniface says someone will get back to her concerning her suggestions.

8:32 p.m. Remarks from the council members:

Guthrie announces an upcoming job fair. You can call 410 939-4240 to find out the when and where. He also thanks everyone for the July 4 celebrations in his community.

Woods congratulates all the new members of the school board. He missed this years’ Independence Day celebrations because of a death in the family.

McMahan spoke about the man who caught baseball player Derek Jeter’s historic home run ball for his 3,000th hit and laments the fact that the government wants to collect taxes on the things the Yankees gave him.

Slutzky recognizes a member of the Economic Development Advisory Board who is here in the audience tonight.

Lisanti congratulates the Havre De Grace Independence Day committee. She says most of the money for that comes from private contributions. About 45,000 people come to see their celebration.

8:22 p.m. Business from the president: there no other meetings scheduled for August. A new council administrator—Pamela Meister—was unanimously appointed, .

Lisanti says “it’s been a long road,” especially for the acting council administrator. She says they had close to 90 applications.

8:12 p.m. A new appointment to the Department of Social Services Advisory Board was made. So were appointments to the Personnel Advisory Board, Economic Development Advisory Board, Commission on Disabilities and the director for the Office of Information and Communication Technology. Justus Eapen, who is in attendance, was appointed to the latter position.

8:07 p.m. Resolution 14-11: Ruffs Mill Road Bridge is also approved.

8:05 p.m. Bill 11-25 and 11-26 are both approved together. So are 11-27 and 11-28. They’re both bond authorization bills approved regarding the fiscal year 2012 budget.

8:03 p.m. Bill 11-23 was withdrawn earlier this evening. Bills 11-21 and 11-24 were both approved. The council is moving fast.

7:57 p.m. Resolution 12-11, correcting a mistake made in the name of a company receiving funds from the Economic Opportunity, is approved. Bill 11-30 is read into the record. This prohibits parking in front of residential or community mailboxes. A public hearing is set for Sept. 6. Resolution 11-31, which has to do with the bridge inspection program is also read.

Next up: amendments. There are two of them. One has to do with Maryland Emergency Management Assistance. A public hearing was held last month. The other concerns the economic opportunity loan fund.

President Boniface says that they made tweaks so that the council would have a better idea about what was going on when they are evaluating the budget process.

7:47 p.m. Council member Chad Shrodes says people will try to bypass Route 40 and take the Conowingo Dam—which is 83 years old and may not be able to handle the increased traffic. “I worry about that,” he said. He also worries about the farming industry, saying it will really affect farmers and other communities. 

Councilman Dion Guthrie says he’s spoken with state officials who have taken a lot of heat.

“We’re going to keep the heat on them,” he says. He wonders if MDTA is taking into consideration the increased amount of people who have been driving through the area due to BRAC.

Shrodes speaking again says that truckers already create problems on rural roads avoiding weigh stations and tolls. “This is a real problem and this is only going to make it worse,” he said. He’s urging residents to write letters.

7:41 p.m. Resolution 16-11 is read into the record. It’s a joint resolution from the council and the county executive expressing opposition to the proposed toll fee increase.

President Boneface says he and some other members has spoken out about why those toll fees will be detrimental to Harford County. Lisanti said the “public outcry ... has been unprecedented." She says it’s not just a local issue, but a regional issue.

7:35 p.m. There is no citizen input, consideration of petitions and applications or special presentations—so the council approves minutes from past meetings.

Next, resolution 13-11 is read into the record by council member Richard Slutzky. The resolution creates the Harford County Charter Review Board. Some of the members are here tonight. Slutzky will read the names of the 15 members.

Lisanti says she’s pleased with the members, and that the board is badly needed. The resolution is approved.

7:31 p.m. Parks and Recreation Month is being recognized. Council president Billy Boniface reads part of the proclamation out loud and declared the parks "an integral part of our community.”

7:30 p.m. The meeting begins with a call to order.

A little more than an hour ago, the council held a public hearing to discuss seven bills. Some of the topics the bills covered: stormwater management, bonds for funding the fiscal year 2012 budget and the economic opportunity loan fund.

They are all scheduled to be voted on tonight.

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