Redistricting Proposals Call For 7, 9 Districts

Plans For Both Options Get Preliminary Ok

August 27, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

A commission redrawing County Council district boundaries approved two preliminary plans last night.

The Charter Revision Commission favors increasing the number of council members from seven to nine butwon't make a final recommendation until after a Sept. 18 public hearing on the plans.

Commission Chairman Robert D. Agee, who favors increasing the number of council members, said the workload has become too great for seven members.

"The charter originally intended the council to be part-time," Agee said. "That's the fundamental question."

But commission member Mark A. Anderson said council members are already full-time and have no problems meeting constituents' needs. He proposed maintaining a seven-member council to avoid dividing communities between districts and to save money.

The five-member commission voted, 3-2, last week in favor of a nine-member council. But the group also must present a seven-district plan in case the recommendation is rejected. If the County Council approves the nine-district plan, it would goon the November 1992 ballot as a change in the charter.

Under a seven-district plan, each member would represent roughly 61,000 people. With the nine-district plan, that number drops to about 48,000 people. A nine-member council would cost an additional $250,000 a year insalaries, Anderson said.

The commission has been working since June to redraw district boundaries based on population changes recordedin the 1990 census. Some districts have grown faster than others, creating an imbalance in the number of people each council member represents.

The commission has drawn two maps showing what seven and nine districts might look like, but members stressed that the plans could change based on public comment. The final decision is up to the County Council, which could completely change the maps.

"These are numerical solutions for what would happen with seven and what would happen with nine," commission member Muriel G. Carter said.

The nine-district plan would divide Severna Park along Benfield Boulevard, placing waterfront parts in a district with Broadneck Peninsula and placing parts north of Benfield in a district stretching all the way to the outskirts of Annapolis.

Anderson opposed the plan because he said it "eviscerated" Severna Park.

But Agee said the plan "brings together communities of interest; it doesn't divide them."

The nine-district plan removes Crofton from South County and places it in a district with Maryland City. Some South County residents had asked the commission to move Crofton so they could have a more rural district.

The plan also increases the minority representation of the Annapolis-area district from 21 percent to 25 percent. It would take 18 to21 districts to create a near-majority black district, county planners have said.

The seven-district plan puts Severn and Glen Burnie -- communities currently divided among more than one district -- intosingle districts but leaves Crofton in the same district as South County.

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