County Council slates elections, Trotter Road extension vote

December 07, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, is expected to be elected chairwoman of the County Council tonight, replacing Paul R. Farragut, D-4th.

Mr. Farragut would not confirm that Ms. Pendergrass will be the next chair, but he said he would not seek a second term. He said he wants to devote more time to his job at the Port of Baltimore.

Although council members decide in advance -- sometimes weeks in advance -- who they will elect as officers, they are coy about revealing their choices. The number of votes a member gets is always a closely kept secret.

The vote in public session on the first Monday in December each year is always unanimous. No office is contested. If a council member objects to the choices -- as one did in 1986 -- the custom is for the dissenter to be absent until the voting is completed rather than vote no.

Ms. Pendergrass has been talked about unofficially as the next council chair since Nov. 16, when the council met for lunch in a crowded Columbia restaurant to discuss a personnel matter in executive session.

Although the chairmanship does not always rotate among the three Democrats, rotation was the rationale offered this time with Mr. Farragut stepping down and C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, having already served as chairman this term.

addition to electing Ms. Pendergrass as chairwoman, the council is expected to re-elect Mr. Gray as chairman of the Zoning Board.

Darrel Drown, R-2nd, is expected to be elected to succeed Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, as chairman of the Liquor Board. Mr. Feaga said he is stepping down as Liquor Board chairman

because he feels Mr. Drown should have a chairmanship. The Liquor Board is the only chairmanship the three council Democrats have allowed the two council Republicans to hold.

The council chairman is paid $28,500 -- $1,000 more than the other council members.

The Zoning Board chairman does not receive more. When sitting as the Zoning Board, council members are paid $100 for each hearing and $50 for each work session.

The Liquor Board chairman receives $55 for each Liquor Board hearing. The other council members receive $50. None receive money for attending a work session.

Following tonight's election of officers, the council will vote on a 22-piece legislative agenda. Included in that list is a bill )( sponsored by Mr. Farragut to amend the 1990 General Plan and link the southern portion of Trotter Road with River Hill Road by way of Sunset Drive. The General Plan calls for both the southern and northern portions of Trotter Road to dead end near a new Route 32. The bill pits Trotter Road residents against those living in the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood of River Hill, Columbia's newest and last village.

Pheasant Ridge residents say that unless Trotter Road is kept open to them, their children will be transferred to new schools and they will be at risk in an emergency because their access to Route 108 will be blocked occasionally.

Trotter Road residents say that if Pheasant Ridge traffic is routed past their houses, their safety will be in jeopardy.

The Planning Board agrees that the 1990 General Plan decision to dead end Trotter Road should not be overturned. Administration officials seemed to argue both sides. They told the council they wouldn't oppose the closing, but they favor making the connection for safety reasons.

Mr. Farragut feels so strongly about the matter that he suggested at a recent council work session that the county pay for the connection and allow the Rouse Company, which is developing Pheasant Ridge, to reimburse the county with interest at a later date.

Other council members were cool to the idea, however. It is county policy for developers to pay for the roads leading to their developments.


The council meets at 8 p.m. tonight in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.

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