Week In Review

May 21, 2006

Contractor sets up shop near Aberdeen

In a key first step to the anticipated relocation of tens of thousands of jobs to Maryland under a national military base consolidation, a major government contractor opened the doors Thursday to its plush new waterfront offices near Aberdeen in Harford County.

With about 150 local employees, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. expects to double its presence in the coming years as military operations move to Aberdeen Proving Ground from New Jersey, and a state official said the company became the first of the large contractors to make the leap.

Amid the fanfare came concerns from one of the company's senior partners about the area's readiness - comments that reflect tempered enthusiasm over the expected growth and Maryland's ability to accommodate such an influx.

"The big issue for the people in this room - with these types of capabilities heading this way is going to come people, hopefully a lot of them," said Gary D. Mather, a Booz Allen senior vice president. "But it's going to have to be attractive to them. This is not a reshuffling of deck chairs."

A section, Friday

Critics protest plan to raze old house

The stately brick manor has stood on a Harford County hillside since 1791 and has been home to several prominent Maryland families, including that of a former governor whose signature is on the Declaration of Independence.

But a developer's site plan refers to the two-story house near Bel Air as an "existing dwelling" that could be razed to make way for a luxury townhouse complex for senior citizens. And as county planners consider the proposal, preservationists have taken up the cause of trying to save the home.

"Eighteenth-century houses are not a renewable resource," Richard Sherrill, a Harford County Historical Society member, said at a development review meeting Wednesday. "It would be devastating to take this one down."

Nottingham Properties Inc.'s plans are calling for a 91-unit community for residents 55 and older called Oak Hill. On the plan presented yesterday, the house lies in the path of a "proposed roadway." "Its new name is tiresome with no historic significance," said James Wollon, a preservation architect. "This is the finest house in Harford County from the post-Revolutionary period. It is a true rarity."

Maryland section, Thursday

Woman charged with animal cruelty

Late Monday, Donna Lee Bell was arrested and charged with 118 counts of animal cruelty, for each animal in the home. Bell, 59, posted a $5,000 bond and was released Tuesday. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 90 days and a $1,000 fine.

Harford authorities were alerted May 11 after a report of a foul smell coming from a home in the 2900 block of Whiteford Road. According to a police report, Bell later opened a padlocked garage for authorities, where a dozen large dogs were kept in cages with little or no food and water.

Authorities found about 120 dogs - at least 40 dead - and some cats living in two homes owned by Bell. Many were caged; others roamed amid carcasses and piles of feces.

The animals were taken to the Harford County Humane Society in Fallston, a collection of former residential houses on a green hill. With the facility at nearly double its capacity, officials converted a barn used for meetings into a makeshift shelter for the Whiteford dogs and gave them names to help keep track of them.

Maryland section, Wednesday

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