City, county legislators at odds on district lines Cross-border plan draws heated debate

August 10, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

In an issue that has sparked heated debate in some Baltimore County communities, city and county legislators are at odds over how to draw up new boundaries for state legislative districts.

Legislators in Baltimore, which has lost population in the past 10 years, want to carve out one new district that would cross the city-county border, either in Pikesville or Woodlawn.

Legislators in the county, which has seen modest population gains since 1980, reject the notion of a cross-border district.

"We will not support a city-county district. I've made it clear that we're firm on that," said state Delegate E. Farrell Maddox, the Democratic chairman of the county's House delegation.

His comments yesterday come a month after a public hearing on the issue brought out about 300 county residents, most of them strongly opposed to being part of any city-county district.

Legislators are beginning to discuss redistricting to come up with proposals for Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Redistricting Advisory Committee, which is drawing up boundaries for legislative and congressional districts statewide based on 1990 census figures.

The committee's goal is to create 47 legislative districts that will be "substantially equal in population," with an ideal target of 101,733 residents per district. The legislative plan is to be completed by Nov. 26 and presented to the 1992 General Assembly in January.

Baltimore stands to lose two of its nine legislative districts because its population dropped 6.5 percent over the past decade to 736,014, a reduction that could spell a significant loss of political clout in Annapolis.

City legislators argue that if Baltimore loses, the county will lose as well.

"We think that the issues and concerns of the city and county do not stop at the artificial boundary of the city line," said state Delegate Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, who co-chairs the city House delegation's redistricting committee. He met yesterday with Mr. Maddox.

Mr. Maddox said the session was amicable and said he agreed to support the city's efforts to retain eight districts, through either of two avenues being explored. City legislators may try to retain eight districts by drawing up districts with a minimum number of people in each.

Second, Mr. Maddox said the county supports city efforts to use adjusted census numbers, which would add 36,000 residents to Baltimore's official 1990 head count. The federal government has rejected the proposed adjustment of the census.

Sen. John A. Pica Jr., D-Baltimore, has asked the Maryland attorney general for an opinion on whether the city can draw up legislative boundaries using the adjusted city population figure of 772,000. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has joined with 15 other cities in a lawsuit to force the Census Bureau to use the adjusted figure. Jack Schwartz, the attorney general's chief counsel for opinions and advice, said that opinion is expected Monday.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.