News from around the Baltimore region

July 01, 2005


County begins review of development rules

Baltimore County officials joined yesterday with builders, community leaders and environmental activists to begin weighing changes in the county's development and environmental regulations.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. called the yearlong review, launched yesterday with a meeting in Owings Mills, "a great step forward" toward updating county regulations. Smith, who has promoted redevelopment in the county, said he hoped the "Builders for the Bay Roundtable" would produce consensus on how to protect the county's natural resources while providing more flexibility to builders in redeveloping sites.

County rules discouraging narrow roads and requiring ample parking in commercial areas are among the rules that may warrant changing, Smith and others suggested.

"You can ride by a lot of shopping centers and see lots and lots of macadam," Smith said, "and cars are using less than half of it." Reducing the size of parking lots where feasible would help protect streams from runoff pollution while also lowering the costs of development, participants said.

Baltimore County is the fourth jurisdiction in Maryland to embark on such a development review, part of a three-state cooperative effort intended to help restore the Chesapeake Bay. Cecil, Harford and Frederick counties have done similar studies under the joint sponsorship of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Center for Watershed Protection and the National Association of Home Builders.

- Tim Wheeler


Head of watchdog group says he was improperly monitored

The head of a state watchdog group is alleging that the Annapolis city clerk's office improperly monitored his review of campaign finance records.

James Browning, director of Common Cause Maryland, which tracks campaign finance spending, said he was in the city clerk's office yesterday when workers insisted an employee would have to sit beside him at all times.

He said the office worker said, " `Someone has to watch him because he could just take a page and we would never know about it.' "

Browning said the records were taken from him after he objected. "This smacks of Big Brother," he said. "It could have a chilling effect on people looking up public records."

Browning said he was researching contributions from developers to Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, who announced this week she is running for re-election.

The city clerk and deputy city clerk could not be reached last night for comment.- William Wan


Perry Hall man dies after grass mower runs over him

A Perry Hall man was fatally injured yesterday evening when he was run over by a large grass-mowing machine being pulled by a tractor he was operating on his property, said Baltimore County police. The man's name was not released.

About 7:30 p.m., someone called 911 and reported that the man, believed to be in his mid-70s, was mowing grass at his home in the 3800 block of Schroeder Ave. in the Gunview Farm community near Gunpowder Falls State Park when he either fell from the tractor or lost his footing. He was run over by the revolving blades of the mower, county police said.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are investigating the incident.


Judge to ponder motions to dismiss golf club suit

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge will consider motions July 11 to dismiss a lawsuit filed against an Anne Arundel County golf club and three prominent members by a former employee who claims they sexually harassed and assaulted her.

In the suit, Erin Zollars, 26, alleges that since she began working at Old South Country Club Inc. in Lothian four years ago, "she was groped by numerous male members, especially when she went upstairs, including touching her on her legs and behind." Zollars' attorney, Brian J. Markovitz, said he and his client had no comment. Zollars resigned last year because of the treatment, the suit said.

The suit names lobbyist Nick Manis; Fred Schram, Anne Arundel's central services officer; and founding club member William F. Chaney, a wealthy south county resident and longtime friend of County Executive Janet S. Owens.

According to the suit, Zollars repeatedly alerted her supervisors about the behavior, which she said occurred while the accused were intoxicated, but no action was taken against them.

Attorneys for the club and Manis could not be reached. Joseph Kagan, who is representing Chaney and Schram, said his clients "absolutely deny the allegations."

Chaney "feels as a founder that he's perceived as someone with potentially deep pockets and potential for large monetary damages," Kagan said.

Zollars is seeking $1.5 million in damages against the three men and the club.

The club was built in 1990 and has hosted the Maryland State Amateur golf championship. In 2000, some politicians alleged favoritism in the transfer of 16 acres to the club by the county.

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