Sanctuary Bill Passes In Howard
The Howard County Council has passed CB-9, the contentious bill designating the county a sanctuary jurisdiction, with a vote of 3-2 on Feb. 6. Council Chair Jon Weinstein (D-Dist. 1) joined Councilman Greg Fox (R-Dist. 5) in voting against the measure.
Should County Executive Allan Kittleman (R) veto the legislation, as promised, the vote as it stands is not sufficient to overturn Kittleman’s veto.
“It has become clear to me that many of the arguments offered on both sides of this issue have not been firmly grounded in facts or even analysis,” Weinstein said. “The bill falls short in that it will do very little in practical terms to allay the day-to-day fears experienced by members of the undocumented community.”
Councilman Calvin Ball (D-Dist. 2), who co-sponsored the bill with Councilwoman Jen Terrasa (D-Dist. 3), said he “would have to respectfully disagree. I think this would not complicate interactions [with law enforcement representatives], but would help simplify and give a little sense of peace during those interactions. There are real concerns and fears. Beyond this legislation it is important to do the sort of partnership and reach-out that was discussed with [immigration advocates].”
Arundel Council Narrows Impact of Proposed Bill
The Anne Arundel County Council has reduced the scope of a proposal bill that is intended to mitigate crime at commercial properties, notably at smaller hotels in Laurel along Route 198, so it now applies only to hotels with 200 rooms or less. Introduced by Councilman Andrew Pruski (District 4), Bill 87-16 would apply to businesses with 10 or more “nuisance” arrests that could be issued via public nuisance notice by the police. That would allow the county to temporarily shutter businesses that are found in violation until the owner(s) address the issues.
The measure has faced continued opposition from County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration, as well as some council members. They’re concerned that some of the county’s large businesses, such as Arundel Mills or Maryland Live! Casino, could be temporarily shut down if the bill passed in its original form.
In a recent email, Pruski stated that “some of the hotels along the Route 198 Corridor [in Laurel] have consistently remained an area of continuous criminal activity, including human trafficking, prostitution and drug related arrests. The public record of these crimes can be found not only in the newspaper, but also by the number of police and EMS [emergency medical services] calls. To quantify the issue, over the past three years, 4,551 police calls and 610 fire/EMS calls have been made to several hotels along the Route 198 Corridor in Laurel. In some cases, these calls equal an average of five calls daily for a single establishment.”
Pruski continued. “Based upon continued concerns raised by residents, I introduced Bill 115-15 and Bill 117-15. Both of these bills were the first step in increasing zoning enforcement and health inspections for the hotels. Bill 115-15 and Bill 117-15 both passed the county council and were signed by the county executive. Due to the passage of this legislation along with the increased health and zoning inspections, a hotel in the county was closed and an illegal used car lot was shut down at another hotel.
“Since Bill 115-15 and Bill 117-15 were passed, the number of police and fire/EMS calls to the hotels has decreased. However, high levels of criminal activity [have] continued,” he said. “Therefore, further action is necessary. After receiving advice from the Anne Arundel County Police Command Staff and the Anne Arundel County Office of Law, I introduced Public Nuisance Bill 87-16.”
The next county council meeting was set for last night, Feb. 6.
Kittleman Discusses Coordinating Agriculture Initiatives at Roundtable
County Executive Allan Kittleman recently met with nearly 50 residents and business owners directly involved in the agriculture industry to discuss initiatives to support the health and vitality of farming in the county. The agriculture roundtable provided a vision for supporting the industry going forward and offered an opportunity to hear ideas and concerns from farmers.
“Agriculture is so important to our community,” said Kittleman. “One fourth of our county land – that is approximately 40,000 acres – remains in farmland, and agriculture is the fifth largest economic driver for the county with more than $200 million in sales annually. I am committed to doing what we can to help our farmers thrive.”
Kittleman announced the formation of a new subcabinet consisting of key county departments and agencies that oversee agriculture programs and requirements. The group has begun regular meetings to help coordinate and facilitate agriculture issues and processes in the county. It will be led by James Zoller, the newly appointed agriculture coordinator, in the Office of Community Sustainability, who has managed the Roving Radish program for the last three years. Other departments include the Department of Planning and Zoning, the Agriculture Land Preservation Program, the Howard County Soil Conservation District, the Howard County Economic Development Authority and the County’s administration.
The proposed initiatives focused on four areas: unifying and better coordinating the various county agriculture programs; supporting projects that help our local farms remain profitable; educating the community about the needs and challenges of farming operations to increase community cooperation; and ensuring that thoughtful, supportive legislation is in place to govern property and farming rights.
Announcements included efforts to expand the Roving Radish program from consumer meals to assisting with distribution of local produce and meats to local restaurants; ensure the Agriculture Preservation Program is effective; and support the industry’s use of existing agriculture innovation grants through the Howard County Economic Development Authority. The discussion ranged from zoning regulations to managing deer populations that damage crops to farmers’ use of county roads. Moving forward, the subcabinet will review suggestions and work on appropriate solutions.
Kittleman, HHC Sign Affordable Housing Agreements for Downtown Columbia
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and leaders of the Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC), Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation (CDHC) and the Howard County Housing Commission (Commission) have signed a Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) and a 4-Party Agreement that will implement the buildout of 900 units of affordable, full-spectrum housing in Downtown Columbia using a mix of tax credits, Housing Choice vouchers, inclusionary zoning, land conveyances, gap financing and other means.
Approved by the county council in November 2016, the DRRA is a 30-year binding agreement between Howard County and HHC. The 900 affordable units to be built will provide housing for those making up to 80% of Howard County’s median income. The 4-Party Agreement reflects the commitments in the DRRA and includes the CDHC and the Commission as partners to satisfy their obligations under the DRRA.
● 200 Very Low Income units
● 417 Low Income units
● 200 Middle Income units
● 83 homeownership/live-where-you work units
HHC will develop the “very low” and “middle income” units spread throughout all future residential apartment developments. It will contribute land to the Commission to facilitate the construction of the “low income” units, which will be included in mixed-income projects throughout the Downtown. HHC also will contribute funds to enable affordable housing development, provide gap financing to the CDHC for Commission development costs and contribute to a Housing Trust Fund.
The 900 units will be dispersed throughout new and old sites in Downtown Columbia, including the new Arts Center to be developed along with a new Toby’s Dinner Theatre, the Banneker Fire Station, an existing and new central library site and a future transit center. Video from the signing ceremony and news conference can be found at https://youtu.be/PXbzFmevlGs.
Expansion in Works for BWI Marshall’s International Pier
With the management of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport continuing to attract more international traffic to the facility, the state is planning a 70,000-square-foot expansion and a 20,000-square-foot renovation of its international terminal, which is also known as Concourse E.
On Wednesday, the Board of Public Works is scheduled to consider a construction contract for the project, according to BWI Marshall spokesperson Jonathan Dean. The low bid for the project, which stands at $6.3 million, is from the Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.
The Concourse E extension consists of three levels. The lower level will accommodate future baggage make-up operations, a new electrical substation, mechanical and electrical support spaces, two restrooms and leasable space anticipated to be used by airlines and/or ground handlers. The sterile level will extend the existing sterile corridor and will accommodate support space for Automated Passport Control operations and two mobile lounge docking locations.
The upper level will include two waiting areas for passengers, public restrooms and shell space for future concessions. Although only two hold-rooms are being constructed, the building (and apron) can accommodate up to six aircraft. Of the six gates, four will be international arrivals only and the two gates with hold-rooms will be able to accommodate arrivals and departures.
Petition Seeks Ouster of Howard Schools Superintendent Foose
An online petition being circulated on the Change.org website has collected more than 780 signatures in support of firing Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Superintendent Renee Foose. The petition appeared Thursday, Feb. 2, following a contentious Howard County Board of Education work session on the school system’s fiscal 2018 operating budget.
During that meeting, Foose sent an email directing her staff to leave the meeting. Pressed for an explanation, Foose simply said, “They have work to do,” and added “I don’t care” when Board Vice Chair Bess Altwerger reminded Foose that administrative staff were needed during the work session, should the board have any questions for them.
The petition is directed to Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon, the only state official granted the authority by state law to terminate a county superintendent for cause.
GP Strategies Acquires McKinney Rogers
Global performance improvement solutions provider GP Strategies Corporation (NYSE: GPX) announced that it has completed the acquisition of certain assets and the business of McKinney Rogers, a global consultancy firm that provides strategy-through-implementation services.
This acquisition will expand GP Strategies’ solutions offerings, giving it the ability to leverage McKinney Rogers’ intellectual property and consulting methodologies to help its global client base meet strategic business goals. McKinney Rogers will operate as part of GP Strategies’ Performance Readiness Solutions segment.
Laurel Manufacturer Plans Expansion, 50 New Jobs
Iron World, a distributor of decorative steel fences and gates, is expanding its manufacturing operations in Howard County and adding 50 new jobs during the next two years. The company will invest $1 million in the project to streamline its manufacturing process and reduce costs. Improvements include exterior upgrades and extra storage space, as well as a new automated routing machine and an additional panel assembly machine, which will significantly decrease assembly time and increase production by 300%.
Iron World’s products are made from raw steel, allowing the company to produce items in a variety of shapes and sizes. In December, the company totaled more than $3.5 million in sales. Its products can be found at the Pentagon, Washington Monument, Nationals Park and numerous bridges and schools across the country, as well as locally in Howard County.
USRA Opens a Remote Observation Center in Columbia
The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) has announced the opening of the USRA Remote Observation Center at its Columbia headquarters. Astronomers in the Baltimore-Washington area can now study the distant galaxies without having to travel to Hawaii to use the powerful telescopes of sufficient power.
The local USRA links to the W. M. Keck Observatory, on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano, in Hawaii. The twin Keck telescopes are amongst the world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes, weighing 300 tons and operating with nanometer precision, studying everything from distant galaxies to planets in our solar system. The telescope is partially funded by NASA; USRA’s Remote Observation Center is one of only two on the East Coast, with the other residing at Yale University, in New Haven, Conn.
NextLOGiK Joins Millworks to Aid Ellicott City Recovery
NextLOGiK, an information technology and development company, joined the Ellicott City Partnership as tenants of the office space located inside Millworks Business Resource Center, which opened in January to support Ellicott City’s flood recovery. NextLOGiK will use the space to collaborate with businesses and nonprofits aiding in recovery efforts.
“Rebuilding efforts for these businesses are far from over, but our community has shown its resiliency and eagerness to help,” said Kirk Couser, CEO of NextLOGiK. “By partnering with the Howard County Economic Development Authority, we can lend our expertise in digital communication to do our part in revitalizing historic Ellicott City.”
NAI KLNB Brokers Crystal Heights Office Center
NAI KLNB has brokered the sale of the Crystal Heights Office Center, a two-building portfolio comprising approximately 78,000 square feet of commercial office space, to Pratt Street Capital LLC. Located at 10005 and 10015 Old Columbia Road in the Columbia section of Howard County, both buildings were 100% leased at the time of the sale. 10005 Old Columbia Road is a two-story, 52,334-square-foot commercial office building, and 10015 Old Columbia Road is a two-story, 25,842-square-foot office building.
“There was a significant drop-off in the sale of investment-grade commercial office buildings, warehouse and industrial product last year, as many assets were leasing-challenged or distressed,” said Abby Glassberg of NAI KLNB. “Crystal Heights Office Center bucked the trend, in part due to the strong leasing fundamentals that exist at the portfolio. The new owner acquired a well-maintained and strategically-located office building that contains every necessary element to achieve long-term value. Our team was able to sell these assets close to the asking price.”
Kittleman Seeks Input Into Transportation Funding Priorities for Howard County
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced the beginning of the public input process as the county prepares to submit its annual priority letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). The letter will recommend Howard County’s prioritized transportation projects for MDOT’s FY 2018-23 Consolidated Transportation Program.
The letter is due to MDOT this April, and is a result of review and input by county staff from several departments, elected and appointed officials. The Howard County Office of Transportation will host a public information and input meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 7-9 p.m. in the Columbia/Ellicott City Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.
Howard County’s current fiscal 2017 Priority Letter is available to view at www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=KF-N7B9R37Q%3d&portalid=0; information about the fiscal 2018 letter will be posted at www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/County-Administration/Transportation/2018-Priority-Letter.
For questions or more information about the FY 2018 Priority Letter, contact David Cookson at 410-313-4312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From MarylandReporter.com …
Club Trump aims to beat Hogan down:
At the end of the 90-minute debate on the override of Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill requiring greater use of solar and wind power, Democratic Sen. Jim Rosapepe hauled out Club Trump, the big stick Democrats are using to pound Hogan. After a very rational back and forth between Democrats and outnumbered Republicans over who would benefit from more renewables and how much it would cost, Rosapepe said overriding the Hogan veto would also serve to counter Trump administration policy in favor of more production of oil and coal. It was a fairly gratuitous remark, given the fact-based debate from both sides that had preceded it. But it was a sign of the dominating theme among Annapolis Democrats whose outrage over Trump knows no bounds. Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2017/02/05/club-trump-aims-to-beat-hogan-down
MarylandReporter.com is a news site for government and politics in Maryland that is published and edited by Len Lazarick. For more information or to sign up for the daily e-news, visit www.marylandreporter.com .