City / County Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

May 28, 2008

More money for consultant considered

The Baltimore County Council is considering paying more to a consultant handling lawsuits against contractors who worked on the addition to the detention center in Towson.

The proposed contract amendment would increase the cap on payments to Navigant Consulting Inc. by $100,000, to $325,000. The Chicago-based company is helping with several county lawsuits against the architect and several contractors who worked on the jail addition. The lawsuits seek more than $5 million in damages for allegedly faulty work.

County Council members recently increased to $250,000 the $150,000 payment cap for a law firm - Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald - that is working on the lawsuits.

The council is also considering approving the sale of property in Towson to a developer for $1.95 million, the lower of two appraisals on the slice of land at Towsontown Boulevard and York Road. Longwood Development was the sole bidder for the slightly more than half-acre site during an April public auction. The land includes a historic railroad abutment.

Laura Barnhardt

Maryland

Politics

Reject slots handouts, lawmakers urged

It's not enough for campaigns mobilizing to sway the November referendum on slot-machine gambling to reject money from gambling interests. A government watchdog group wants state politicians to do the same. Ryan O'Donnell, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, said he plans to send a letter to members of the General Assembly, asking them to refuse campaign contributions from gambling interests until voters decide the matter. Common Cause, which doesn't take a position on whether to legalize slots gambling, asked for the same pledge from pro- and anti-slots campaigns. "This is no longer a legislative process; it's a democratic process," O'Donnell said in an interview. "But still, let's keep it clean." Meanwhile, anti-slots forces announced that the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce decided to remain neutral on the issue. The statewide chamber has endorsed slots, but local chambers, including Ocean City and Annapolis, oppose the referendum.

Laura Smitherman

Prince George's

Laurel

Woman's body found in River Front Park

A woman's body was found yesterday by someone walking in a wooded area behind a community pool, Laurel police say.

The woman's body, found in River Front Park, had not been identified last night, police said. The woman had suffered trauma to the upper body, authorities said. The body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore to determine the cause of death. Because the nearby pool was crowded Monday, investigators believe the attack occurred Monday night or early yesterday.

Associated Press

Anne Arundel

Glen Burnie

Cut garage height, officials order man

Anne Arundel officials have ordered a Glen Burnie man to reduce the height of a $20,000 garage he built on his property, even though the county had approved a permit for the job. The county Board of Appeals, in a 6-0 decision announced yesterday, found that inspectors acted properly in revoking the permit granted to John Getz, whose garage was approved in 2006 and last year after he revised its design. Taller than his house, the garage violates code. Officials said neighbors had called Getz's garage unsightly. A stop-work order was issued four days after the second permit approval. Getz will have to reduce the height by about 4 feet, said Tracie Reynolds, a county land-use spokeswoman. She said Getz "neglected to point out" to a clerk who approved the permit that he was changing the height of his garage. Getz denied that.

Steven Stanek

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