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News froma round the Baltimore region

September 09, 2005

BALTIMORE

Planning panel approves affordable housing fund

Baltimore's Planning Commission unanimously approved yesterday the creation of a $59 million affordable housing trust fund.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration created the fund in July to win City Council support for its plan for a $305 million publicly funded convention center hotel. Church and community activists had demanded the city invest in neighborhoods before a downtown hotel.

The city would assemble $59 million over five years to build the fund. The money would come from Community Development Block Grant cash, income from the Inner Harbor Hyatt and general obligation bonds.

Officials said yesterday that the money would initially be used to assemble large tracts of land to build affordable housing. The fund also would be used for financial incentives for developers and helping people pay rent and buy homes.

A couple of people at the hearing expressed concerns that the fund could be jeopardized if the federal government proceeds with sharp cutbacks to block grants, which make up most of the fund pot, $29 million.

Housing Department officials reiterated their long-term intentions for the fund but didn't mention specific alternatives to the block grants.

- Jill Rosen

HARFORD COUNTY

Court rejects effort to block shift of jobs from N.J. to APG

An effort to prevent the relocation of thousands of jobs to Aberdeen Proving Ground by blocking the closing of Fort Monmouth, N.J., was rebuffed yesterday by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard no arguments before deciding against the coalition of politicians, contractors and union officials that had sued the government in an attempt to prevent the closing of Fort Monmouth, which the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended last month.

The appellate judges agreed with U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper, who ruled Tuesday that the courts have no role in the base consolidations.

Lawyer Frank G. Capece said his clients, led by Sen. Jon S. Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat, will probably try to take their case to the Supreme Court.

The commission's recommendation paved the way for the transfer of 5,000 scientists and engineers from Fort Monmouth, home of the Army's Communications Electronics Command, to Aberdeen. APG's Ordnance School and other facilities would also be relocated, resulting in a loss of 3,500 jobs.

In rulings over the past two weeks, federal judges have been split on whether they have the right to intervene in the base closings.

- Associated Press

BALTIMORE

Woman, 18, wanted on N.Y. homicide warrant is arrested

An 18-year-old woman charged in a New York City warrant with homicide in the death of her infant daughter nearly two years ago was arrested yesterday while working at a doughnut shop in North Baltimore's Medfield section, city police said.

Anastasia McDonald, who had been living in the 2500 block of Edgecombe Circle North, was arrested at Dunkin' Donuts in the 4500 block of Falls Road by members of the Warrant Apprehension Task Force, said task force Lt. Joseph Conway.

McDonald is charged with willfully withholding medication intended for her 6-month-old daughter, Emanci Romero, who died Nov. 29, 2003, said Lt. William O'Toole of the Bronx homicide squad. McDonald is being held at Central Booking and Intake Center pending an extradition hearing, Conway said.

- Richard Irwin

MIDDLE RIVER

MARC station lot adding 155 spaces for $1.6 million

Construction is to begin this fall on an expansion of the parking lot at the Maryland Rail Commuter service station at Martin State Airport, state officials said yesterday.

The project would add 155 parking spaces to a 171-space lot that is filled most days, officials said.

The $1.6 million price tag for the project includes the cost of some track reconfiguration and the building of a pit along the tracks for maintenance workers to inspect and repair trains, said Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Maryland Transit Administration. The project is in conjunction with the Route 43 extension from White Marsh to Middle River.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for the project yesterday. Construction is to begin in November, and the new parking spaces are to be available to commuters next summer, Scher said.

BALTIMORE

Boots representing fatalities in Iraq to line Hopkins campus

More than 1,800 pairs of combat boots will line the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University today through Sunday as part of an exhibit representing deaths in the conflict in Iraq.

The traveling exhibit - called "Eyes Wide Open: the Human Cost of Iraq War" - was created by the Quaker social justice and peace organization American Friends Service Committee to illustrate the lives lost in the war. During its tour to more than 65 cities across the country, it has drawn some protests from people who say the exhibit exploits soldiers' deaths for political reasons.

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