Funding of proposed conference center tops city council agenda

March 14, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

The elections are over, the holidays have passed and committee assignments have been made.

Tonight, the Annapolis city council starts working on an ambitious agenda that includes proposals to change the definition of the family, the sale of bonds to help pay for a conference center and amendments to the city charter.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins is sponsoring legislation to authorize issuing general obligation bonds to help pay for a conference center.

He has promised county legislators that the city would pay $250,000 toward a design study, pending the council's approval.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Democrat in Ward 5, is introducing several proposals, including changing the way city council vacancies are filled, prohibiting smoking in all city-owned buildings, establishing an order of procedures at public hearings and revising the city's definition of families.

Mr. Snowden's legislation on filling council vacancies was prompted by the vacancy in Ward 1. That seat has been empty for nearly three months because Alderman John Hammond resigned to take a position in county government.

The charter requires that a primary and general election be held to fill empty seats.

Mr. Hammond's wife, Louise, won that seat and will be sworn into office tonight.

Mr. Snowden is proposing that future vacancies be filled by the central committee of the party to which the last alderman belonged.

That process was used until the late 1980s when the law was changed.

Mr. Snowden said the election process takes too long, leaving residents without representation on the council.

Mr. Snowden and Alderman Theresa DeGraff, a Republican representing Ward 7, are backing a change in the procedural order at public hearings held before the city council.

The proposal would allow the public to give testimony before city officials could speak.

In past public hearings, officials spoke for so long that residents often grew tired and left before they could testify.

Mr. Snowden also is proposing a change in the city's definition of family.

A controversy arose two weeks ago when a city landlord was cited for zoning violations because he was renting a single-family house to four students. The students did not meet the city's definition of a family.

Mr. Snowden is proposing that the law be changed to allow families to include as many guests as there are bedrooms in a house or apartment.

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