If only a tenth of the people Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass invited to tomorrow's council hearing show up to testify, the council could be in for a long night.
Ms. Pendergrass, D-1st, sent letters to 13 individuals and the presidents of 216 civic associations, saying she welcomed testimony on her bill to require the county Planning Department to set up an early warning system to alert residents to new development.
"The impetus for this legislation comes from community associations and residents concerned about the lack of prior notice of new subdivision activity in their community," Ms. Pendergrass said in her letter.
Her bill seeks to change that by allowing residents to subscribe to a biweekly mailing that would list sketch plans and preliminary equivalent sketch plans received by the Planning Department in the previous 14 days.
The listings would identify proposed developments by name, file number and location.
The listings would also reveal the names of the developers, the acreage involved in each proposal, the current zoning, and the date of the subdivision review committee meeting at which the plans would be discussed.
The notification would inform subscribers that they can send the Planning Department written comments about new developments prior to the subdivision review committee meeting.
Plans for minor subdivisions would not be included in the biweekly notification.
Those who want to receive the information would have to register with the Planning Department and pay a fee of about $10 set annually by the council.
The fee would be used to cover the cost of mailing, Ms. Pendergrass said.
"We're not trying to make money on legislation, but we don't want it to cost money either," she said.
The legislation is the product of meetings Ms. Pendergrass has had over the past year with a group of civic association leaders and developers.
She said she formed the group after representatives of the Savage Community Association and the Howard County Citizens Association met with her to ask for help in receiving advance notice about new developments.
"One of the things I have been trying to do ever since I was elected to the council is get information to the citizens about issues that concern them," Ms. Pendergrass said.
"I'm very glad the SCA and the HCCA approached me. I would like to see all 229 people come out and testify -- and preferably not be opposed" to the legislation.
The council will hear testimony on Ms. Pendergrass' bill and 30 other pieces of legislation tomorrow at 8 p.m.