Severna Park bill to expire tomorrow

Council was set to adopt planning legislation Monday

`Process starts over again'

January 03, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

In what is being described as a scheduling snafu, a long-range planning bill for Severna Park will expire tomorrow, three days before the Anne Arundel County Council was set to adopt the legislation.

The predicament has upset council members because County Executive Janet S. Owens plans to reintroduce the bill at the council's meeting Monday in its original form, not the heavily amended version, sparking another round of revisions and debates.

"That is just about the stupidest thing I have ever heard," said Councilman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr., a Millersville Democrat, who introduced one of 15 amendments to the Severna Park small-area plan Dec. 3, the last time the legislation was discussed. "If we have already done it, why do we have to do it over again?"

But Owens' spokesman Matt Diehl confirmed yesterday that the county executive plans to introduce the original bill.

"Basically, the whole process starts over again," he said, referring to the county charter, which requires that a bill expire 95 days after it's introduced. "As for amendments, that is something the council will have to hash out."

Crowded County Council agendas during several recent meetings prevented necessary action on the bill by tomorrow's deadline.

Klosterman said he would speak with Owens to try to persuade her to introduce the amended bill to save time. In recent months, the council has held extra public hearings to mow through a pile of bills, including many small-area plans.

Besides the Severna Park plan, council members have reviewed plans for Deale/Shady Side, South County, Broadneck, Edgewater/Mayo and Annapolis Neck. Of those, the Deale/Shady Side, South County and Broadneck plans have been adopted. Previously, the council adopted plans for Crownsville and Crofton.

Council Chairman Bill D. Burlison, an Odenton Democrat, said yesterday that he will also speak with Owens about the bill. Burlison said that if Owens refuses to introduce the amended version, the council may introduce its own legislation. "I suppose we could step in and reintroduce the bill as amended," Burlison said.

The small-area plans are part of a long-range planning process that the county undertakes once every decade. In 1997, former County Executive John G. Gary included residents in the process for the first time. Committees were convened to review and recommend zoning changes for 16 geographic areas of the county.

In August, Owens laid out an aggressive schedule for review and adoption of the small-area plans and zoning maps.

Pat Troy, chairwoman of the Severna Park Small Area Planning Committee, said yesterday that she was upset by the situation, but optimistic that it might provide residents with more time to review a contentious zoning change for 18 acres at Routes 2 and 10.

"It's unfortunate that it happened, but this has been dragging on for a long time anyway, so we'll just go with it," said Troy, whose committee has been working on the small-area plan for four years. "Maybe this will enable us to have a better understanding of what our options are there."

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