Last night, the County Council approved a revised growth tiers map 4-1, with Greg Fox...wait, what? Courtney Watson as the lone dissenting vote. The Sun reports that the new map "assigned parcels in western Howard County that are currently preserved or designated as priority preservation areas as Tier IV while designating already developed residential parcels and uncommitted parcels that abut those parcels as Tier III."
Shortly after this measure passed, County Executive Ken Ulman called the vote "unfortunate" (political speak for "bad") and spokesperson David Nitkin was quoted as saying that Ken is keeping all of his options open, including a veto.
Next thing you know, the title of the article is "Ulman Weighs Veto of County Council's Growth Tiers Bill" and Ken is projected to "veto council legislation for the first time in his six-year tenure."
Ken Ulman will not be vetoing this bill unless he is very bad at math. Under Article II, Section 209(g) of the County Charter, an Executive Veto may be overriden by 2/3 vote of the Council. That's not to say that I don't think the Ulman team would be able to turn the ear of at least one Council-member, but it would be a very risky proposition and put one more splotch on Ken's otherwise burgeoning Gubernatorial resume.
Personally, I find the Council's approach to this matter to be responsible, empathetic, and practical. As much as I hate the semantics, it is hard not to feel like there isn't a "War on the Rural West", particularly as it relates to this bill and limitations on rural development. If you live in an urban suburb, you can use any kind of lawn fertilizer that is street legal to buy, yet if you live out west, the most advanced nitrogen stripping septic tank is washed over in blanket prohibition. Why? Because the politics are easier. Less density = less votes. The West is postured as a political punching bag with the only deterrent being a line of tractors down Route 40.
I think the State bill was bad law and the Council did what they could without unnecessarily harming the rural West. We can debate all day long whether this is mere zoning or a per se regulatory taking, but what we will never avoid is the fact that Tier IV changes the financial position of landowners in such a way that would be unacceptable to some County lawmakers. That's enough for a 4-1 vote and enough to override any veto from the County Executive.
The new Board of Education was sworn in yesterday afternoon, formally ending Alan Dyer's term, and bringing on Ann De Lacy for a four year term.
Former MoCo County Executive and Gubernatorial candidate Doug Duncan is looking to retake his old seat in 2014 after a six year sabbatical. Identity politics and changing demographics aside...did Doug Duncan just make it ok to say you're running in 2014?
Featured Blog Post of the Day: WB looks at vacant lot at the intersection of Centennial Lane and Frederick Road that may be developed for residential property if approved by the County Council sitting as the Zoning Board. These folks should have a nice view of Route 40, standing forever testament to the value of zoning laws.
That's all for today. Links are a little paltry, but there wasn't much I saw worth picking. Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!