Council discusses nuns, housing commissioner Resolution seeks to make USF&G house a landmark

October 07, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Touching on several issues, members of the Baltimore City Council tried yesterday to rescue displaced nuns, summon the housing commissioner to appear before the body and repeal a medical waste bill that it enacted earlier this year.

Weeks after insurance giant USF&G Corp. evicted a group of nuns from a house the company owned to make way for expansion, the council introduced a resolution yesterday that seeks to make the Northwest Baltimore structure a historic landmark as a way to restrict USF&G from easily selling or changing it.

The resolution prompted a fiery speech about suspected greedy business practices from Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, who introduced the measure a year after USF&G negotiated a deal with the council to expand in Mount Washington.

"We have not done this so they can sell out, come in here, make money and move," Bell said. "I take offense to the representatives for USF&G who basically say, 'If we do not have carte blanche to make as much profit as we want, then the council is not pro-business.' "

The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation will study whether to designate Provincial House, which operated as Mount St. Agnes Theological Center for Women, a historic landmark of cultural value.

Council members are also upset about council meetings and hearings not being broadcast on the city's cable Channel 44 since Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III took over the station's operations.

The council voted yesterday to summon Henson to appear before the body Oct. 15 and explain his action.

After the mayor cut funding for Channel 44 in this year's budget, Henson took over operations and quadrupled the council's weekly fee, totaling $1,600, to broadcast hearings and meetings.

With the mayor's help, a temporary deal was worked out allowing last night's council meeting to be broadcast live.

The council also introduced legislation yesterday that would repeal a law allowing the owners of a controversial incinerator to bring in medical waste from a 150-mile radius. Council members say operators of the Hawkins Point Medical Waste Incinerator had promised to bring jobs to South Baltimore, but that the company is getting rid of 15 union jobs by contracting the work out.

Pub Date: 10/07/97

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