Faced with intense opposition from citizens and other political leaders, County Councilman David G. Boschert has agreed to delay action on a controversial plan to redraw council districts.
The plan splits Shipley's Choice, leaves Crofton in South County and keeps the entire Broadneck Peninsula in the 5th District. It essentially rejects the recommendation of the council-appointed Charter Revision Commission.
"I am willing to hold off on a vote until a future date, preferably no later than Feb. 3," when his bill to adopt the map expires, Boschert said yesterday.
Boschert said he was "very impressed" by thevocal, standing-room-only crowd that jammed council chambers Wednesday night for a public hearing on the legislation. Most of the people were Severna Park residents who adamantly oppose the division of Shipley's Choice or any Severna Park neighborhood.
Also speaking against the bill was Delegate John Gary, R-Millersville. Gary advised the council to wait until the General Assembly completes its own redistricting in early 1992 before acting on any plan. The legislature probably will redraw precincts, confusing anything the council does now, hesaid.
"Frankly, if you act before the middle of February, you mayfind yourselves having to redo all your work over again," Gary said.
Boschert said he never intended to rush the redistricting plan.
But another council member said Boschert badly wanted this bill to pass. Not only would passage of the plan be a feather in his cap, butit would keep politically active Crofton, home of at least one strong potential council contender, out of his district.
As of Wednesday, he had four of the five votes needed to pass the bill: his own andthose of co-sponsors Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, George F. Bachman, D-Linthicum, and Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena.
The county charter requires that any district realignment be approved by five of the seven council members.
Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, says she will not vote on the plan now, because the council has at least until next August to act. Council members Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, and Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn, also are not ready to pass the bill.
Under Boschert's plan, part of Shipley's Choice would be moved out of the 5th District and into the 4th, the West County area.
"We'd have to vote for a representative who representsthe area of Piney Orchard, Seven Oaks, Odenton, Severn and Fort Meade," Shipley's Choice resident Kathy Elmore told the council. "That area has nothing in common with the Shipley's Choice and Severna Park area.
"What you are doing is taking our political voice away from us. We have a vote, sure, but it's not a meaningful vote."
Others who object to the Boschert bill include Severn residents, who are split between three districts and want a single representative; South County citizens, who don't want Crofton in their 7th District; and some West County residents, who don't want Crofton either.
This group outnumbered those supporting the plan, including most Crofton residents, who prefer to remain with South County, and representatives of theLower Broadneck Peninsula.
The Lower Broadneck opposes the Charter Revision Commission's suggestion that it be taken out of the 5th District and moved into the 6th with the Annapolis area.
Boschert says his plan, first proposed by commission member Muriel Carter and later by the county Republican State Central Committee "does the least damage" to constituents and "maintains community integrity." His map moves six of 132 precincts, fewer than the commission's.
Boschert told citizens, "There is no conspiracy to split you up for political reasons." But many remained skeptical.
"It's sad that this issue has become so partisan and self-serving," said Georgie Doherty of WestRiver.
Steve Gordon of Shipley's Choice took Evans to task for supporting the bill.
"We don't represent you, you represent us," he told the councilwoman, who represents the Severna Park area. "We elected you to represent what we want, not what you want, and we want to stay in District 5."
On Tuesday night, the Greater Severna Park Council voted unanimously to oppose the Boschert plan.
The GSPC either wants the Charter Commission's map adopted or to wait until the legislature redraws precincts.
Charter Commission member Mark Anderson, who supports the Boschert plan, wondered why Shipley's Choice residents waited until now to take part in the redistricting process.
"Not a single human being" from Shipley's Choice has shown up at redistricting hearings held since June, he said.
As for waiting on state legislators, Anderson said the council should "stake out its own turf without them. Hell, they've shown they can't do the job," he said, referring to the recent furor over congressional redistricting.