Howard Week

August 04, 2002

Candidates talk about issues at election forums

Twenty-five candidates for Howard County offices addressed issues - from prostate cancer treatment to higher salaries for teachers - at a series of primary election forums July 27 sponsored by the African American Coalition of Howard County.

Consensus emerged on a few things during the six hours of questions at county school board headquarters on Route 108, but only candidates running in contested races for the Sept. 10 primary were allowed to speak. Officials such as County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat, and state Sen. Robert H. Kittleman, a Republican with no opponent, were not interviewed, though Kittleman attended.

Everyone on the panels favored turning the former segregation-era Harriet Tubman High School building - next to Atholton High School - over to the African-American community for use as a museum and cultural center - though no one suggested how to pay for it.

Rezoning to allow seniors-only complex

The Howard County Zoning Board cleared the way Monday for a large, seniors-only condominium complex in Elkridge, a proposal cheered by neighbors and jeered by county planners.

The board voted unanimously to rezone the 12.4-acre site from one commercial designation to another - a change that will allow 100 Investment Limited Partnership to develop the land for active adults ages 55 and older.

Rezoning proposals generally spark community opposition. This one prompted an outpouring of support from neighborhood groups, who liked the idea of residential development instead of office buildings.

Democrats defeat bill to change charter

In a 3-2 party-line vote, County Council Democrats voted Monday to rebuff a Republican attempt to replenish the government's Rainy Day Fund by changing the county charter.

Charter amendments require a super-majority of four votes to pass. The measure would have placed the issue on the November ballot.

A bill to raise fines for animal nuisance violations passed unanimously with no debate during the brief legislative session - the last council meeting until next month.

Few to switch children from struggling schools

Fewer than 50 Howard County children will transfer this fall from six struggling schools to other elementary schools in the district under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Of the 2,300 county children who were eligible under the new public school choice law to opt out of schools with low test scores, 63 applied for transfers this summer. School officials said all of the requests were honored and that 49 families accepted.

Seven families that applied for transfers declined the option after school officials notified parents of the receiving school. Seven families did not respond.

Filippi indicted on murder charges

Robert Emmett Filippi, the Columbia banker accused in the killing of his two preschool-age daughters in June, was indicted on murder charges Wednesday -days after court officials received a psychiatric report that found him incompetent to stand trial.

A Howard County grand jury returned the indictment, which charges Filippi, 44, with two counts of first-degree murder in the strangling of 4-year-old Nicole and 2-year-old Lindsey Filippi. The maximum penalty on each charge is execution.

MOSH report finds courthouse air unhealthy

Employees in the Howard County Clerk of the Circuit Court's office are not getting enough fresh air to breathe, state occupational health inspectors have concluded.

A report from Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH), which was recently sent to Clerk of the Circuit Court Margaret D. Rappaport, says that carbon dioxide levels in her offices in Howard's Circuit courthouse are higher than they should be.

It also notes other factors that might affect the air quality in the historic, 19th-century building - including dead pigeons decomposing on the roof near cooling fans and "mold growth" in the building.

Plantings may screen brightly colored shed

Walnut Springs residents are contemplating how to defuse growing frustration over a brightly colored shed built by the man who developed their neighborhood: Hide it behind fast-growing, bushy trees.

People from the small western Howard County community met with government officials Wednesday night to discuss their options - which are limited - and to ask if the county will help pay for the green buffer.

The battle is not really between them and Charles W. Schroyer, 64, a retired contractor who subdivided his 107-acre Woodbine land in the early 1990s to create Walnut Springs. It's Schroyer vs. the county.

Schroyer says the county cheated him out of a home lot on a hilly parcel in the middle of the neighborhood. County regulators disagree, so usual complaints were not getting him anywhere.

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