Council to urge easing air standards

December 06, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The Howard County Council will likely pass a resolution tonight urging state officials to "minimize the negative impact" that federally mandated clean air standards could have on local businesses.

The Baltimore region, which includes Howard County, has been designated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as one of the six worst areas in the nation in terms of air quality.

Communities in the region are required to reduce ozone levels by restricting commuter vehicle traffic.

People who work in businesses of 100 or more employees would be strongly encouraged to car pool or use mass transportation systems to get to work.

The council resolution urges state officials to restrict commuter traffic in the summer only.

Year-round restrictions would "impose heavy burdens on businesses in the Baltimore region, while summertime compliance would minimize that burden," the council resolution says.

The resolution notes that the Baltimore region has had a net loss of 94,000 jobs since 1990. "The goals and standards of the Clean Air Act must be sensibly balanced with the region's urgent need to promote the development of new businesses and employment opportunities," the council resolution says.

Reductions in automobile commuter traffic is "one of the least effective strategies for reducing ozone and the single most onerous for local businesses to achieve," the resolution says.

The resolution is one of two that the council is slated to vote on to

night without a public hearing. The other would enable the Board of Education to seek state aid for capital projects for fiscal 1995.

The Board of Education resolution would give council approval to the school system's proposed capital budget, but would not commit local funds to that budget.

The vote on local funding will come in the spring.

Council administrator Sheila M. Tolliver asked School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey in a Nov. 17 letter to submit the capital budget request earlier next year so that the council may include it in a public hearing.

In addition to voting on the school budget and Clean Air Act resolutions, the council will vote on 18 other pieces of legislation at the 8 p.m. hearing in the county office building.

Members are expected to shelve a resolution that would close Diamondback Drive at U.S. 29.

Residents who testified at a Nov. 15 hearing on the bill were so divided that the sponsor, C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, said the issue needs further study.

Mr. Gray has invited residents to attend a Dec. 13 meeting to discuss the issue with representatives of the State Highway Administration and the county Department of Public Works. The meeting will be held 8 p.m. in the Thunder Hill Elementary School cafeteria.

Meanwhile, the council is expected to approve the remainder of its legislative agenda. Included are the following bills and resolutions:

* A bill that would require cable franchise operators to provide prompt, efficient service, and understandable and accurate billing.

* A bill that would include criminal penalties and double the fines paid by pet owners who don't clean up after their pets.

* A bill that would provide for shared sewage disposal facilities in clustered developments in the rural, western part of the county.

* A resolution that would bring county water and sewer service to Marriottsville residents and to Clarksville business owners.

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