County residents will have their say tonight on what may be the final County Council redistricting plan.
The council will conduct a public hearing at 7:30 in the Arundel Center on a plan that would keep Shipley's Choice and most of District 5 intact.
But the plan, proposed by District 5 Councilwoman Diane Evans, would move Elvaton and Riverdale out of District 5 and further split Severn, which has drawn opposition from leaders there.
The council must vote on the proposal in two weeks or the bill will expire. Tonight is the last night the council can make changes to the plan without introducing a new bill.
District 5 is, by far, the most populous of the seven council districts and must lose 7,000 residents to reach the target of 61,000 residents per district. The plan Evans introduced would reduce the district to about 63,000, which is within limits allowed by federal courts.
The council is required to redraw council district boundaries to reflect population changes recorded in the 1990 U.S. Census. Previous efforts to balance the population in Evans'district drew protests from Shipley's Choice, Berrywood and Lower Broadneck residents, all communities that would have been split under earlier proposals.
Evans, a Republican, introduced her plan last month in the form of amendments to a redistricting bill proposed by Council Chairman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville. The compromise plan was drafted by the Greater Severna Park Council.
Evans' plan would keep Shipley's Choice and five other communities in District 5. It would move Riverdale, Riverdale Forest, West Riverdale and East Earleigh Heights to District 3, represented by Republican Councilman Carl "Dutch" Holland. It would move West Elvaton to District 2, represented by Democrat Edward Middlebrooks.
District 4, represented by Boschert, would pick up Sherwood Forest from Democratic Councilwoman Maureen Lamb's Annapolis-area district and a small piece of Severn from Middlebrooks' district. Boschert's district would be the smallest of thenew districts, at 58,000 people.
Severn residents are expected tooppose the plan, which leaves their community split among three council districts. Boschert said he is sympathetic to them, but said he doesn't think the council can help.
"I don't know if we can do anything at this time without changing the whole plan," Boschert said. "In my opinion, this is the most equitable plan there is."
Four council members have voiced support for the plan, which needs a fifth vote to pass. So far, none of the undeclared council members -- Lamb, Middlebrooks and Virginia Clagett, D-West River -- have said they will vote for the bill.
* In other action tonight, council members are expected to approve a bill reforming the commercial bingo industry.
The bill would deny licenses to owners and managers with ties to organized crime or gambling convictions and require them to submit to background checks. It would reduce the number of bingo licenses from seven to six and restrict owners to one license each.
Last month, council members rescinded changes to the bill they had made, after thecounty administration warned the changes might encourage organized crime to infiltrate bingo parlors.
The changes would have doubled the maximum single-game prize -- from $500 to $1,000 -- at the county's five commercial bingo parlors and reduced the time between games offering a $20,000 prize, from 90 days to 60 days.
Boschert asked a new county Amusement License Commission to study prize amounts and report back to the council in six months.
Anne Arundel is one of thefew jurisdictions in the country outside of Indian reservations thatlicenses commercial bingo.