Columbia official hints police may not be given OK to patrol open space

Council debates the use of Title 19 ordinance

February 12, 1999|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Columbia Association President Deborah O. McCarty hinted yesterday that the Columbia Council will not support a plan to give county police unrestricted enforcement authority on CA's 3,100 acres of privately owned open space.

Members of the Columbia Council, the elected body that governs CA, resumed debate last night over whether officers should be allowed to enforce association rules and make arrests on association property -- for such things as drinking or gambling in public -- without a CA representative present.

But McCarty predicted earlier in the day that the council would vote against granting police that authority under a county ordinance known as Title 19, which provides for the regulation and safety of certain private lands.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Friday's Howard County edition of The Sun referred to Columbia Council representative Jean Friedberg, the chairman of the Public Safety Committee, as chairwoman of that committee. The Sun regrets the error.

Such a vote would mark a reversal in an unofficial policy established several years ago.

"The Columbia Association is not going to go along with its past attempt to put all its open space under Title 19," said Jean Friedberg, the council representative from Hickory Ridge and chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee. "It's not necessary."

CA's assistant director for open space, Chick Rhodehamel, briefed council members last night on the details of a meeting he and other CA officials had with County Executive James N. Robey last month.

At that meeting, which included McCarty, Friedberg and Police Chief Wayne Livesay, Robey outlined his reasons for opposing blanket Title 19 status.

Robey has said the police department doesn't have the resources to patrol such a large area, and that closing Title 19-designated parcels between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. would infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

McCarty said police worry that increasing the number of properties under Title 19 would raise public expectations for increased patrolling. She said police would prefer adding properties on an as-needed basis.

Livesay previously said through spokesman Sgt. Morris Carroll that he supported blanket Title 19 status for CA open space. But Carroll said yesterday, "He has the same position as the county executive."

Local officials began the process of applying for blanket Title 19 status in Harper's Choice and Wilde Lake several years ago because those villages included parcels with "problem spots." The process stalled because the county had questions about some parcels.

Columbia Council members decided to re-examine whether they wanted the police to have unrestricted authority on CA properties Columbia-wide.

"We're at a different point in time and we have a different council," said McCarty. "Title 19 was never intended to be used for a lot of parcels."

The top two village officials in Oakland Mills, Village Board Chairman David Hatch and Vice Chairman Earl Jones, proposed granting blanket Title 19 status last month. The Kings Contrivance Village Board also sent a letter to the Columbia Council supporting that policy.

Pub Date: 2/12/99

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