Baltimore County Council updates
Since the last issue of The Voter, the Baltimore County Council has passed or approved the following items:
- The council approved the $10M proposed purchase price for the old Sears property at Security Square Mall. A “charrette” process begins in October to enable the community to participate in plans and decision-making for the redevelopment. During discussion in the council meeting, Councilman Patoka noted that due to redistricting, the redevelopment of Security Square Mall will impact communities in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th councilmanic districts. “It’s regional in scope. There are not many developments that impact three different councilmanic districts, which is nearly half the county,” he said.
- The council passed Resolution 32-22, which would fund the Baltimore County Public Library employees’ first union contract. There are 460 full and part-time employees in the BCPL’s 19-branch library system.
- Funds were approve to purchase land on Mt. Carmel Road in the Parkton area for a new Hereford Senior Center. The area’s current Senior Center operates two days a week in a meeting room at the Hereford Volunteer Fire Department.
- Bill 58-22 was passed that would permit “university based retirement communities” in the county under certain circumstances. Per the bill, the county would permit a retirement community “to be located at least in part on an institution of higher learning that includes a variety of mutually beneficial educational opportunities for the institution as well as the senior residents…”
- Councilman David Marks introduced the legislation, which would allow plans to go forward to have Edenwald- located on land adjacent to Goucher College- to lease three acres on the college campus to build a “fully integrated University-Based Retirement Community.” This type of “intergenerational learning exchange” would be the first time this was done in Maryland.
- Bill 55-22 was approved to increase the County Executive’s salary by $17,000 to $192,000 per year. A separate bill, 56-22, raised council members’ salaries to $69,000, with the council president’s salary increasing to $77,000. In addition, changes were made to council members’ pension benefits.
Finally, on September 19, the County Council approved eight members of the newly-created Police Accountability Board (PAB), nominated by the County Executive Johnny Olszewski. Per HB0670: the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021, each county in the state will create a PAB to review complaints of police misconduct filed by members of the public, and will work with law enforcement agencies and the county government to improve policing. One member of the nine-member PAB would come from each of the seven council districts, with two at-large members.
The ninth nominated member of the PAB will be voted on in an upcoming council session; he had been unable to attend the council meeting. The approved members of the PAB include: an RN/paramedic, a social worker, two members of the faith community, an attorney, an office manager and community activist, a paralegal, and a former Baltimore City police officer.
Racial and gender diversity is noted in the nominees. The council approved all members unanimously except for one “nay” vote by Third District council member Wade Kach, who voted against the sixth district’s nominee: Rev. Clare Petersberger, a minister at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church. Rev Petersberger had noted in her statement that in 2016 her church had erected the first of (ultimately) ten Black Lives Matter banners. The banners were repeatedly vandalized. She told the council “It says something about Baltimore County that those signs were vandalized ten times.” You can listen to the eight nominees’ statements by watching the September 13 Council Work Session video.
- Nora Miller Smith, LWVBCo Board Member