Council ponders Ellicott City parking solutions Business group backs installation of meters

November 21, 1995|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

Ellicott City is old. So is one of its biggest headaches.

"Parking has been a problem in Ellicott City since the horse and buggy days," Howard County planner Marsha McLaughlin said last night at a public hearing in which the County Council began considering installation of parking meters and other ways to improve Main Street congestion.

Ms. McLaughlin's ideas received an endorsement from the Ellicott City Business Association and were well received by the council.

Indeed, only one person spoke against the parking proposals, which would also establish private ticket police to ensure that loading zones in front of businesses are not used for parking.

Carol A. Bragg, who lives on Ellicott City's St. Paul Street, said placing meters in existing parking lots would be an unfair burden for residents. Her street gets so crowded with parked cars that she often has to park in the lots.

But Ed Williams, a member of the Ellicott City Parking Committee, said the group is considering giving residents parking stickers that would enable them to continue using the lots for free.

In other action, two Howard County farmers urged the council not to repeal an old fence law that they say protects them against encroaching suburbanites. The law ensures that neighbors share the cost of building and maintaining fences between adjoining properties.

Martha Clark, who lives on a 700-acre dairy, beef and grain farm in West Howard County and is president of the 455-member Howard County Farm Bureau, spoke against what county officials earlier had described as simple legislation to rid the county of a dated law.

But Ms. Clark said the old fence law is still observed by farmers.

"I've got mile-long fences to deal with," she said.

Also speaking against the law was Tom Lloyd, a county lawyer and farmer.

In an earlier interview, he painted this scenario to illustrate the old law's value:

A farmer wants to convert grain land to pastureland. But his suburbanite neighbor doesn't want a fence along the property because it would disturb his view. The farmer simply says: "Let me build the fence, or my lawyer will make you pay for half of it."

The council did not vote on the bill. But the chairman, Charles C. Feaga, himself a farmer, indicated that he would support keeping the law in agricultural areas.

Also at the meeting, Councilman C. Vernon Gray indicated that he would like to increase the influence of Howard County's golf advisory board established by County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

Mr. Gray, who is considering forming his own advisory committee if he doesn't get the changes he wants, would like to see the golfing panel elevated to a status higher than just making recommendations to the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Robert Rutan, a member of Mr. Ecker's committee, told the council that he also feels it should report to a higher authority than Recreation and Parks.

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