Baltimore County Digest

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

January 19, 2007

More money proposed for school construction

Baltimore County government agencies have proposed a construction budget for the next fiscal year that includes $40 million more for building and renovating schools than last year's spending plan

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. presented the suggested spending plan, which includes $155 million for school construction, to the county Planning Board yesterday. Smith described the proposal - for the 12-month period that begins in July - as almost identical to the capital budget submitted last year, except for the school money.

According to the two-year Capital Improvement Program approved by the County Council last year, the county was to have spent about $920 million on various construction projects by July 2008. Each year, the Planning Board reviews the capital budget proposal and makes recommendations to the county executive.

Josh Mitchell

Freeland

Extra hearings set for Shelleys Fields

Four additional dates have been set for Baltimore County's deputy zoning commissioner to hear testimony about a proposed housing development and recreational complex in the Freeland area called Shelleys Fields.

Deputy Zoning Commissioner John V. Murphy heard yesterday from residents who are concerned about potential effects on nearby farmers and increased traffic from 17 additional homes and the proposed recreational complex that would include an indoor arena, six fields and nearly 600 parking spaces.

Several county officials also testified about the plan, and several more are expected to talk about project before Murphy decides whether to approve the development plan.

Hearings have been set for Feb. 28, March 1, March 7 and March 9.

J. Carroll Holzer, the lawyer for residents opposed to the project, has argued that the proposal "is not consistent with the farmland" nearby.

He has also raised questions about whether the county has agreed to take over the maintenance of the recreational complex. If the county doesn't maintain the complex, Holzer said, it will be a private venture that will create assorted problems for area residents.

Holzer has said that the County Council agreed to a zoning change that allows the developer to build the additional homes in exchange for the recreational complex - which he has argued is illegal.

Lawrence E. Schmidt, the lawyer representing the Hereford Zone Recreation and Parks Council, and Howard L. Alderman Jr., the lawyer for the developer, have argued that residents should file a lawsuit in Circuit Court if they believe that the County Council has acted illegally, saying that Murphy doesn't have the authority to make such a finding.

Schmidt also has argued that Murphy, in a June hearing, already ruled that the recreational complex is allowed by the area's zoning designation.

Laura Barnhardt

Towson

3 plead guilty to home invasion

Three men believed to be part of a gang targeting wealthy Asian business owners pleaded guilty yesterday to robbing a Baltimore restaurateur's home in northern Baltimore County.

Zhi-Bin Liu, 26, Shang-Chen Lin, 25, and Chen Lin-Xuenun, 31 - all of New York - were sentenced to five years in prison by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr.

The robbery occurred last year on Jan. 10 at about noon. Police were dispatched to a home on Belfast Road, where motorists had stopped to help a man who was walking - gagged and with his hands bound - in the middle of the road, according to court documents.

The man told police that he was sleeping at his parents' home when someone rang the doorbell. Four men forced their way into the house, kicking him to the ground, tying his hands and ankles with plastic and duct tape, knocking off his glasses and taping his mouth and eyes.

Police who searched the ransacked house found a backpack in the front yard with a $1,500 laptop computer and $24,800 worth of jewelry - all of which was missing from the house, according to court documents. Also missing was $1,500.

Another man pleaded guilty in the case in October but has not been sentenced. Chun-Hua Liu, 23, had been scheduled to testify against the others, prosecutor John Cox said yesterday.

Jennifer McMenamin

Carney

Gear donated for autistic students

Carney Elementary School has received equipment from an organization that helps provide donations of new and used items for students with autism and other special needs.

Make It Happen, an organization founded last year by a Baltimore teacher and her two college-age children, last week gave the school several occupational therapy devices, such as a Rifton chair, which supports a child who has difficulty sitting upright. The chairs generally sell for about $300.

Other donated items included pencil grips, writing boards, therapeutic balls and health-related CDs.

The group, which plans to make donations to other area schools, delivered similar equipment Tuesday to William S. Baer Elementary in Baltimore.

Gina Davis

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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