Council acts to tighten trash-pickup proposal Water hookups OK'd for homes near landfill

March 05, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

In a sweeping session on proposed new laws last night, the Howard County Council moved to reduce county trash collection, pay for water hookups near a west county landfill, give county officials more flexibility over the size of their work force and guarantee public bathrooms at gas stations.

The council also passed a law that -- in theory at least -- could end trailer parks in the county.

As for trash pickup, council members echoed statements made last week that they intend to toughen a trash policy proposed in January by County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

Facing increasing skyrocketing disposal costs, which are expected to jump by $5 million next year, Mr. Ecker has proposed a $125-per-household yearly trash fee and a weekly collection limit of four 30-gallon containers -- bags or cans of the "yard" size.

But four council members voted last night to rewrite Mr. Ecker's proposal to allow for further container limits. Council Chairman Darrel Drown eventually wants to limit collec- tion to two containers a week. In the event they need For extra pickups, residents could buy special bags at local stores.

"My concern [with Mr. Ecker's proposal] has always been that we didn't go far enough to encourage recycling," Mr. Drown said.

On the water-hookup issue, the council voted 4-1 to bring water to 307 residents around the county's Alpha Ridge Landfill who are concerned about the quality of water from their wells.

Mr. Ecker, arguing that the county already has spent $10.5 million to bring water to the area, had proposed spending $675,400 more to bring water within 150 feet of each house. Residents would have paid an average of $1,900 each to lay pipelines from the mains to their homes.

But last night, the council agreed to bring water all the way to the homes, which will cost an additional $583,300. Council member Charles C. Feaga said more people would hook up to county water and therefore pay county water bills.

"In the long run, I think it will actually be the profitable thing to do," Mr. Feaga said.

It is not known whether Mr. Ecker will veto the bill.

Less controversial, perhaps, was the council's efforts to guarantee public bathrooms at gas stations. As part of an overall effort to expel dated laws, county officials proposed ending the requirement. But the council considered it a service that residents should not have to doubt.

In other action:

The council voted 3-2 for in favor of a bill allowing county employees to accept transfers to lower-paying jobs in lieu of layoffs. Employee unions had opposed the bill, and last night about 35 firefighters showed up to protest.

Council member C. Vernon Gray offered several pro-labor amendments, which were rejected by the three Republicans, on the council, who said giving managers flexibility can avoid layoffs.

"They don't need the flexibility to shaft the employees," Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Ecker has said he wants to reduce the number of county employees workforce through attrition and transfers as part of his goal to cut government spending by 12 percent over the next 2 1/2 years.

Mr. Feaga recused himself from a vote to allow water service to land owned by Raymond J. Klima, who is negotiating a deal on the parcel with Land Marketing Consultants. Mr. Feaga said his son is working on the deal for Land Marketing Consultants.

Last month, Mr. Feaga came under fire for voting on a zoning amendment that helped two developers who -- in a separate land deal -- had negotiated an option to buy Mr. Feaga's family farm. Mr. Feaga did not disclose the business relationship or recuse himself from voting. t tTC The council approved a bill to that will allow traditional houses to be built on land now reserved for mobile homes and modular homes.

Mr. Drown said builders have told him traditional houses could be built less expensively than trucking in modular homes.

But Mr. Gray and Councilwoman Mary C. Lorsung were concerned that the new policy could lead to developers' replacing mobile home parks with subdivisions.

In Howard, 12 areas are zoned for mobile homes near U.S. 1 in the eastern part of the county.

"Those are one of the areas we look to for affordable housing in this county," Ms. Lorsung said.

Pub Date: 3/05/96

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