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CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

News from around the Baltimore region

July 14, 2005

MOUNT AIRY

Town Hall closes doors for yearlong renovation

Mount Airy Town Hall has closed for renovations that are expected to take about a year.

During construction, the staff will have temporary quarters in an unoccupied business office at 3 N. Main St.

Town offices closed yesterday evening to begin the move today through Monday from Town Hall at 110 S. Main St. to the former offices of the Van Sant plumbing company.

While Town Hall undergoes a $1.2 million renovation and expansion, the town council will hold its sessions in the lower meeting room of the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company at 702 N. Main St.

Next month's town council meeting has been rescheduled to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8 from Aug. 1.

- Sheridan Lyons

BALTIMORE

Street closures for Artscape to run today through July 26

The annual Artscape festival may not start until the end of next week, but the setup and cleanup will require streets near Maryland Institute College of Art to be shut down today through July 26, two days after the event ends.

In addition to street closures, the Baltimore Department of Transportation is imposing many restrictions on traffic in the area, including parking, and will turn some one-way streets into two-way streets to help alleviate congestion.

Starting at 7 a.m. today through 9:30 a.m. July 26, Dolphin Street from Mount Royal Avenue to Howard Street will be closed. Parking will be banned in both lanes of the 1200 block of Mount Royal Ave., also starting today.

Closed, starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday: Mount Royal Avenue from West North to Maryland avenues; Cathedral Street from West Preston Street to Mount Royal Avenue; Oliver Street from Maryland to Mount Royal avenues; Preston Street from Cathedral to Howard streets.

Closed, starting at 9:30 a.m. July 21, will be Maryland Avenue from West Lanvale to Preston streets, including the Maryland Avenue access ramps to the Jones Falls Expressway; and Mount Royal Avenue from Maryland Avenue to North Charles Street. Parking will be banned on West Preston Street from Cathedral to Mace streets.

Starting at 9 a.m. July 22 and lasting until 8 a.m. July 25, officials will ban parking on West Lanvale Street from Rutter Street to Mount Royal Avenue and on West Lafayette Avenue from Rutter Street to Mount Royal Avenue.

One-way traffic patterns will be created along several streets near the festival to provide access for local residents. From 9 a.m. to noon July 24, Maryland Avenue will be converted to two-way traffic from West Preston Street to Mount Royal Avenue for morning church services.

BALTIMORE

City OKs selling homes to Habitat for Humanity

Baltimore's Board of Estimates unanimously approved a deal yesterday to dispose of 18 city-owned vacant rowhouses by selling them to Chesapeake Habitat for Humanity for $360,000.

The nonprofit developer will rehabilitate the houses, located in the Washington Village and Pen Lucy neighborhoods, and sell them to low-income families by offering city-backed mortgages that may be forgiven after five years. The deal is meant to ensure affordable housing in a rapidly escalating city real estate market.

If the homeowners involved in the program exceed income requirements or do not use the houses as their primary residences, they will have to pay the mortgages in full. The nonprofit is paying $63,000 in cash for the properties and taking out a $297,000 mortgage with the city.

"We want them to do this in neighborhoods throughout the city where home prices are spiking," said Douglass Austin, deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Housing and Community Development.

In other business, the spending board accepted a four-year, $2 million state grant to finance the revitalization of the 1.67-acre Center Plaza in downtown. City departments will work with the Downtown Partnership to implement a plan to install more grass, new walkways, seating, lighting and water fountains to the plaza atop a parking garage north of Fayette Street and between Charles and Liberty streets.

- Doug Donovan

BALTIMORE COUNTY

Teen admits injuring child at center of $34 million suit

A teenage girl appeared in Baltimore County Juvenile Court yesterday and admitted that she severely injured a foster child who was staying in her family's Randallstown home last year.

On Monday, the injured toddler's mother filed a lawsuit seeking $34 million from Chloe Ann Jones, 56, the foster care provider, and the Baltimore Department of Social Services, the state agency that placed the boy in Jones' home.

In court yesterday, the teenager, Jones' daughter, was found delinquent of reckless endangerment. Her disposition, or sentencing, was postponed until next month at the request of her attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, so he could prepare.

An attorney for the prosecution, Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Porter, read a lengthy police report about the July 20, 2004, incident. According to the report, the girl, then 15, told police that she was skipping on some steps with the toddler when he fell backward, hitting his head.

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