A redistricting plan that favors shifting part of old Essex int the Baltimore County Council district that covers Dundalk is to be introduced tonight by the council's chairman.
The plan, which would make smaller changes to the other six council districts, appears likely to win eventual approval by the required majority of five, although several members have not yet publicly committed themselves.
Councilman Vincent Gardina, D-5th, who vehemently opposes the loss of part of Essex from his district, said Friday he will introduce his own plan. Winning approval for it, however, will be an unhill battle.
It appears now that only Gardina and Melvin Mintz, D-2nd, are likely firm opponents of the proposal by Chairman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th.
Whatever the council's final decision in August on redistricting, it may become moot with several members now discussing the need to create more districts before the 1994 elections.
A proposal to change the county charter to expand the council would have to be approved by five of the seven councilmen and then would appear on the county-wide election ballot in November 1992. If the voters also approve, the districts would then be drawn again for the 1994 elections.
Riley, Gardina and Catonsville's Berchie L. Manley, R-1st, all said last week they conceptually favor having nine districts. Mintz said he also has no objection. No one has formally proposed such a bill yet, although one black political group is planning a petition drive to get the issue before the voters. The group hopes that an additional district on the county's west side would all but guarantee black representation on the council.
The redistricting plan Riley is to introduce tonight would give the Essex business district to the 7th District, which includes Dundalk and is represented by Democratic Councilman Donald C. Mason.
Gardina wants to keep Essex in the 5th District, and shift precincts in nearby Rossville to the 7th District, instead.
The council plans a public hearing July 30 on redistricting, and a vote at next month's council meeting.
If Mason gets part of Essex, as called for in Riley's plan, the 6th District, represented by William A. Howard, would expand northward also, to take lightly populated, rural sections east of the Gunpowder Falls north of Paper Mill Road and north to First Mine Branch.
Riley's 4th District would grow slightly to the northwest.
Mintz's 2d District would gain a few voters south of Interstate 70 near the city line and along McDonogh Road north of Winands Road in Randallstown.
Manley's district, the 1st, would also move slightly north up to Deer Park Road from Marriottsville Road, its current boundary.
All of these changes are the result of the 1990 Census, which determined that three council districts are far above the ideal population of 98,976, while three more are below that magic number.
The 6th District is closest to the ideal with 99,483 residents. Mintz's 2nd District wasn't far off either, with 97,735.
The main problems were that the 7th District had dropped to 85,265 and the 3rd District, represented by Democrat Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, had grown to 110,099. The 1st and 5th districts also needed to shed about 5,000 residents each.