Some are concerned over effort to rezone 25-acre...

January 13, 2002

Some are concerned over effort to rezone 25-acre Elkridge site

Land near seven Howard County business parks might seem primed to become the location of an eighth, but Elkridge residents hope the Howard County Zoning Board draws a line somewhere - specifically, at Interstate 95.

The existing business parks lie east of I-95 in the heavily commercial U.S. 1 corridor. The 25-acre tract a company wants to rezone from residential to light manufacturing is west of the interstate, a barrier residents think should not be crossed.

On the other side of the argument is Kenfield LLC of Baltimore, which negotiated with about a half-dozen owners for land that is nestled between I-95 and Route 103. Peter Bosworth, the company's managing member, said the land is unfit for homes because it was contaminated by illegal dumping. He said the tract was part of a 50-acre Superfund site and the Environmental Protection Agency removed some of the toxins at least a decade ago.

The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a "no further requirements" notice for the site if it is used for commercial or industrial development, but additional cleanup would be necessary before the agency would consider permitting residential development there, said MDE spokesman Richard McIntire.

Howard police promote a woman to captain

For the first time in its 50 years of existence, the Howard County Police Department will have a woman seated among the high-ranking officers at its weekly command staff meeting - a move some have called overdue.

This week, Nancy Yeager, the first woman in the department to be promoted to captain, will pull up to the table alongside the police chief, two deputy chiefs and six other captains when she assumes her role as Northern District commander. She rose from lieutenant to captain New Year's Day.

Police Chief Wayne Livesay said the department was slow to bring a woman onto its command staff. "This was a great opportunity for diversification," he said of Yeager's promotion. "It's just as important as anything else we're doing as a department."

County Council approves a school board replacement

In a flurry of significant, but noncontroversial unanimous decisions Tuesday night, the Howard County Council approved a new member of the school board, creation of a Housing and Community Development Department and compensatory pay for county employee-reservists called to active military duty.

Another unanimous vote approved $500,000 to complete a seven-classroom Head Start building scheduled to open in September in Columbia's Owen Brown village.

James P. O'Donnell, 65, a retired business executive, was confirmed to become the only appointed member of the five-person school board. He is to complete the three years remaining on the unexpired term of Laura Waters, who resigned in October. Since his confirmation was by resolution, rather than by bill, O'Donnell's appointment became effective immediately.

O'Rourke adds 5th plan to redistricting process

Howard County schools Superintendent John R. O'Rourke threw a fifth redistricting proposal into the pot for consideration Tuesday night, surprising and angering many parents who had spent weeks deliberating the pros and cons of the other four.

The proposal - an adaptation of the "red" plan - is the only one the five Board of Education members will be dissecting and perfecting over the next several weeks. Sandra H. French, vice chairwoman of the board, called the plan "superior" to all the others.

The board is scheduled to make a decision on new high school boundary lines Jan. 24.

Board approves plan for soccer complex

Soccer enthusiasts can build their field of dreams, a Howard County board decided Tuesday night, approving plans for the largest privately owned soccer complex in Maryland.

The Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County plans to construct 10 fields, parking for 600 cars, an administrative building and two shelters on its 52-acre site in Ellicott City, across from Centennial Park.

Leaders of the 6,000-player group savored their victory quietly - no hoots or hollers - but were pleased at clearing one of the biggest hurdles in their years-long attempt to build their own place for competitions.

Brown calls Columbia strong, warns of challenges

Columbia and the homeowners association that runs the town are in strong shape, but the community must guard against becoming complacent, Columbia Association President Maggie J. Brown said Wednesday.

In the annual State of Columbia speech sponsored by the Columbia Business Exchange, Brown said the planned community of 88,000 must rise to meet several challenges as it enters its 35th year.

"We cannot become comfortable because the future always presents challenges," Brown told about 110 people who gathered for the lunchtime address at the Columbia Hilton.

Schools chief unveils $389.6 million proposal

In anticipation of one of the tightest economies in recent years, Howard County schools Superintendent John R. O'Rourke unveiled Thursday night a lean spending plan for next year - adding no new programs and forgoing raises for himself and key aides - but still increasing last year's budget by at least $20 million.

When the cost of annual pay increases for teachers and staff is added, the increase could move several million higher.

The preliminary $389.6 million proposal for fiscal year 2003 alone represents a 5.6 percent increase over this year's budget. That's $20.8 million more than the school system is working with now, and close to $15 million more than O'Rourke asked for last year. The county's share of the proposal would be $16.2 million, with the remainder to be picked up by state funding.

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