Week In Review

September 16, 2007

Anne Arundel

Leopold seeks fund to fix storm drains

Anne Arundel County's chief executive is seeking to create a storm water management fund that would generate at least $5 million a year to repair waterways damaged by future construction.

County Executive John R. Leopold, a Republican, said yesterday that he will introduce legislation to the County Council tomorrow to create a fee paid by property owners based on the amount of impervious surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and home additions, they create. It would raise at least five times the amount of the current storm drainage fee, which would be eliminated, but far less than a fee that environmentalists wanted imposed on all property owners.

The county spends $11 million a year on storm water restoration. Estimates of the backlog of projects to repair scores of polluted waterways range from $400 million to $700 million.

"It will be a helpful start to resolve an important environmental problem," Leopold said. "The needs are enormous, but we must act within the framework of fiscal reality."

Maryland section, Thursday

Gambrills

Council members critical of talks

Anne Arundel County Council members expressed frustration last week that they know little about negotiations between the state environmental agency and the operator of a fly-ash dump site to clean up contaminated water in Gambrills.

Without updates from either the Maryland Department of the Environment or the dump operator, BBSS Inc., the council members said it's difficult for them to make an informed decision on a bill to ban the further dumping of fly ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants.

"If we are going to have a bill on such an important subject, it would be nice to have MDE here," said County Council Chairman Ronald C. Dillon Jr.

The measure would only forbid new dumping sites and would have no effect on whether Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. can continue disposing of fly ash at the 80-acre Gambrills site near Route 3 where the county found cancer-causing metals in nearly two dozen wells last year.

Last month, the MDE filed a consent order requiring BBSS to pay an unspecified but "significant" fine and clean up the water. State officials said they will go to court if an agreement is not reached by Oct. 1.

Anne Arundel section, Wednesday

Anne Arundel

Leopold fundraiser takes in $100,000

Many of the guests were developers with multimillion-dollar projects planned in Anne Arundel County. The price of admission was the state maximum for a campaign contribution: $4,000.

And the host at Monday night's exclusive dinner at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront was County Executive John R. Leopold, who was swept into office pledging that developers would no longer be allowed "to drive public policy in the county."

The event raised at least $100,000 for Leopold, who doesn't stand for re-election until 2010. But he will oversee the once-a-decade review of the county's development plan, which could particularly benefit developers around expanding Fort Meade and BWI Marshall Airport.

"It sounded like an excellent opportunity to buy some access and influence," said Mary Boyle, a spokeswoman for Common Cause Maryland, a government watchdog group.

Leopold, however, said there was nothing untoward about the event.

"They wanted to get to know me better, to get acquainted with me, to have an opportunity to have a frank exchange of views," he said. "Whether a donor gives me $4,000, $1,000 or zero dollars, it won't change the direction I will pursue in the county."

Maryland section, Wednesday

Severna Park

Tip bring arrests in dog-fighting case

Through the woods, the tipster could hear the sound of growling dogs, surrounded by men yelling and encouraging the animals. "Kill 'em!" they said as two pit bulls attacked another dog. "Break his leg!"

Police conducting surveillance over the next two days did not witness the dog fighting the tipster reported, according to court records. But they observed men walking pit bulls and assembling small, fenced-in areas thought to be used for fights.

Later, they seized treadmills and ropes, which are often associated with training for dog fights.

Last week, two Severna Park residents were ordered held in lieu of $750,000 each on multiple dog-fighting charges after police raided their home Sept. 7, seizing five pit bulls and equipment that police suspect was used to train the animals.

Maryland section, Tuesday

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