Between The Lines


September 07, 2004

Wandering decimal point

Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz saved 4,074.921 acres in the Hampton neighborhood from being accidentally rezoned.

The act of heroism came amid the organized chaos of the Baltimore County Council's meeting last week to vote on 547 rezoning requests that flooded in during the quadrennial Comprehensive Zoning Map process.

Hundreds of acres of land already had received new zoning classifications. Thousands more were on the verge of being rezoned. Each change was made with little more than the announcement of the letter and numerical abbreviation of the zoning category, the number of acres affected by each proposal and a roll call vote that made Tom Peddicord sound more like an auctioneer than the County Council secretary he is.

Making a mistake would have been easy amid the alphabet soup of zoning designations such as DR5.5, RC8 and RAE2 and acreage computed to eight decimal points. So each councilman designated a colleague to check the accuracy of the figures he read aloud to the crowd of 150.

When Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a North County Republican, got to request No. 3-038, he announced that he was changing the zoning on 4,079 acres of RC4 land.

Kamenetz leaned in to whisper a little something to his colleague. McIntire chuckled.

"I'm sorry," he said. "That is a slight mistake, isn't it?"

McIntire then announced his change for the 4.079 acres of RC4 property north of the Beltway, between Dulaney Valley and Providence roads.

-- Jennifer McMenamin

What's in a name?

Joseph Bartenfelder, a Baltimore County councilman and Fullerton farmer, stopped by the Maryland State Fair last week to check on the vegetables he had entered into various contests. While at the fairgrounds, Bartenfelder decided to stop by the pig races.

He was just in time for the political competitors: The announcer introduced the racer named for the former first lady and senator from New York, Hillary Rod-Ham, as well as the little porker named for a former vice president, Mr. Al Boar.

Laughing, Bartenfelder quipped, "I hope they don't get down to the council level."

-- Jennifer McMenamin

Baltimore goes Bohemian

Thanks, Ray Lewis and Forbes.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's weekly neighborhood news flash, delivered via e-mail, likes to boast about all things Baltimore. Last week was no exception.

"Ravens superstar Ray Lewis delivered over 1,000 book bags filled with school supplies to Baltimore school kids," the Sept. 3 e-mail states.

It goes on to say, "Forbes magazine published a feature entitled `Bohemian Bargains,' and guess what? Our city tops the list of recommended destinations, particularly for the young and single." What did Forbes say?

"Baltimore got its groove back, baby. Pride sparkles in the bold designs of the skyscrapers and museums that surround the Inner Harbor, boast civic leaders. You can see it in the smiles of Little Italy's restaurant hosts and in buffed-up neighborhoods such as Fells Point. Baltimore also boasts the second-highest concentration of professional and technical workers in the United States. The city is a price bargain compared to nearby Washington, D.C."

-- Doug Donovan

The price of success

In response to complaints about motorists speeding through alleys, Baltimore County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat, proposed last week to lower the speed limit in the thoroughfares to 15 mph from the state-set limit of 30 mph -- prompting a lively discussion during the council's work session about enforcement.

It was unclear how many signs would have to be posted or how much it would cost the county to enforce a lower speed limit. One alternative the council members jokingly tossed around: asking residents to leave their trash cans out in the alley to slow potential speeders.

Then, members realized the speeding problem was probably caused by the county's extensive repaving project several years ago. Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat, told a resident who had requested the repaving project and now supported lower alley speed limits, "You have to be careful what you ask for."

-- Laura Barnhardt

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