The Harford Redistricting Commission ditched its five original proposals for redrawing County Council districts last week after a councilwoman lobbied two commission members to salvage two precincts in her district.
Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, urged Republican members of the commission -- chairman Robert E. Corkran and Glenn A. Brown -- not to shift the two Upper Crossroads voting precincts into another district. Parrott also testified before the entire commission Thursday.
She got her way.
When the commission met Thursday to choose one of its five proposals to present to the public, Corkran and Brown presented commission members with three new proposals.
The commission then voted for a plan that would not shift the precincts Parrott wanted.
Ultimately, the commission chose a compromise plan. The final choice combined one of the original proposals with one presented by Brown and Corkran Thursday.
The final proposal would keep intactthe top portion of District B, made up of the two Upper Crossroads precincts located north of Pleasantville Road.
The commission had originally proposed shifting one or both of those precincts into another council district.
The new plan also shifts one of seven Bel Airprecincts from District C, represented by Democrat Theresa M. Pierno, to District E, represented by Republican Robert S. Wagner.
The shifted precinct includes Worthington Heights.
Residents of anotherBel Air precinct that includes the Locust Knoll or Crest Lawn developments, also in District C, would be moved to District B, under the proposal.
After the commission has considered public comment, it will decide whether to draw other district combinations and settle on afinal version to be presented to the council in October.
Commission member Sally Willis Rogers objected to the compromise plan and abstained. She objected because it divided the two precincts near Bel Air.
"I just didn't like what they were doing with Bel Air," said Rogers.
"It doesn't split the three precincts that make up the town itself, but it splits the greater Bel Air area, and we were supposed to be trying to keep communities of interest together."
Keeping communities with shared interests, like schools, together in council districts was Parrott's point in her meetings with Corkran and Brown and in her testimony before the commission.
District B faces the most changes because its population of 39,512 is the largest of the six districts, commission members have said.
The commission is attempting to equalize each council district's population. Under that guideline, each district would have 30,355 residents.
The commission considered moving one of the two Upper Crossroad precincts out of District B to balance the population.
But District B residents and Parrott objected, saying the Upper Crossroads precincts share schools, recreation programs and volunteer fire services.
Parrott said she didnot see anything unusual in a council member meeting with members ofthe commission.
"It would seem a typical thing to talk to anyone on a council-appointed committee," said Parrott.
The only objection Democratic Central Committee-appointees on the commission raised Thursday to the change in plans was that they had not received the new proposals until 4 p.m. that day.
"I was choosing from the (original) plans we had discussed two weeks ago," said commission member Avery Ward.
Former state Sen. Catherine I. Riley, the other DemocraticCentral Committee nominee to the commission, also objected to seeingthe plans the day the commission was to make a decision.