Layman in 1st Council District Sun endorsement: Zoning appeals board veteran could contribute to Howard County Council.

October 26, 1998

THE LESSONS that George L. Layman has learned as a member of the Howard County Zoning Board of Appeals would make him a valuable asset to the county council. Mr. Layman successfully made the transition from outsider to insider.

As a community activist more than a decade ago, he helped block construction of Route 100 through his neighborhood. But the past five years he has played a different role: passing judgment on development projects as an appointed county official. He would bring both perspectives to the council.

The Democratic candidate is seeking the 1st District seat vacated by Darrel E. Drown, who decided not to seek another term.

The Republican nominee, Christopher J. Merdon, also has positive attributes that would make him a good council member. The former legislative aide to state Sen. Christopher J. McCabe has been a strong voice for managed growth.

But Mr. Layman, who lost to Mr. Drown in 1994, has a better background to accomplish that task. He says the Board of Appeals has gone from handling one or two cases a year to hearing more than a dozen -- an indication of residents' dissatisfaction with the development review process.

Pre-submission hearings that developers are required to attend do not solicit views of residents of communities where proposed construction would occur.

Mr. Layman says he would support legislation that requires earlier notification of households affected by planned development, to give them a chance to negotiate without having to threaten lawsuits.

In a related issue, Mr. Layman said he would support extension of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to cover the broader high school enrollment area. It makes sense to consider those upper grades when deciding whether an area can accommodate new residential development, since elementary schoolers eventually become high school students.

Mr. Layman rightly describes this year's battle over school funding an embarrassment for Howard. He said the council and school board should meet more frequently to discuss education needs. The Sun endorses George L. Layman for Howard County Council in the 1st District.

Tomorrow: 2nd District

Pub Date: 10/26/98

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