Redistricting Commission Goes With 7-district Plan

September 24, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

A county commission charged with redrawing County Council district boundaries recommended a seven-district plan last night.

The Charter Revision Commission will present its plan to the County Council tomorrow.

Commission members had voted, 3-2, last month to recommend increasing the number of council members from seven to nine. But after residents opposed the plan at a hearing last week, the commission decidedto recommend a seven-district plan.

The map approved last night would keep the communities of Shipley's Choice and Berrywood with Severna Park in District 5, represented by Diane Evans, R-Arnold. Both the nine-district and a previous seven-district plan had divided those communities.

Berrywood resident Debbie Fitzgerald, who attended last night's meeting, said she was pleased with the plan.

The proposal also increases the minority representation of an Annapolis-area district from 21.6 percent to 23.3 percent. Commission member Dallas Evans, the only black member of the panel, wanted the commission to make other changes to increase minority representation in the district, but the panel refused because members said the district would be too small.

The plan puts all of Severn in one district, responding to requests from that community. Severn is now split among three districts.

Crofton would be moved out of a district with South County andplaced in a district with Maryland City, a move South County residents had requested but some Crofton residents opposed.

The plan alsomoves two precincts in the Lower Broadneck peninsula currently in District 5 into the Annapolis-area district across the Severn River, despite requests last week from Broadneck residents that they remain where they are.

The commission approved the plan, 4-1, with member Mark Anderson opposing it because of the Lower Broadneck and Crofton changes. "I can't live with this," said Anderson, a Severna Park resident. But he acknowledged: "I think there's no map that's going to make everyone happy."

Anderson, who had drawn the seven-district map rejected by the County Council, will present a dissenting map to the council Wednesday. Evans also will present his argument that Annapolis should have a smaller district to address minority concerns.

Commission Chairman Robert D. Agee said he will ask the council to consider a nine-member council, arguing that the issue should at least be debated. He will also ask council members to put off a final decisionuntil next spring, when the state redraws General Assembly district boundaries and creates new precincts.

"If the council would hold these, pending the legislative session, we could split these a lot more surgically," Agee said.

The commission has been working since June to redraw council district boundaries based on changes in population recorded in the 1990 Census.

Commission members had favored a nine-district plan, arguing that the county had grown too much to be represented by seven part-time council members.

But after 200 Severna Park residents turned out to oppose the plan that would split their community, the panel dropped the idea.

Agee, however, argued that the numbers on both sides of the issue at the hearing were about even, because representatives of the Greater Severn Improvement Association and the Millersville/Severn Run Federation, speaking in favor ofnine districts, represented about 12,000 homes.

Proponents of nine council districts are considering a petition drive to have voters consider the issue on the November 1992 ballot.

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