Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fox Farm (Wednesday LINKS)

Yesterday, the County Council heard testimony on CB1-2013 (PDF), introduced by Greg Fox, which is essentially another bite at the apple on the Growth Tiers map passed by the Council, vetoed by the County Executive, and laid to rest by the failure to override the veto.  I say "essentially" because CB1-2013 is the Council map in a ball gown with expensive jewelry.  It matches up the General Plan with the Preservation Map, tosses in corresponding annotations between the two, and Ta-Da...the Council Growth Tiers Map.

When I spoke to Greg about this map last week, he indicated that there would be a lot more support from the rural West this time around.  While I'm not sure I would agree that there were "more", what they lacked in quantity, they made up for in quality.

Through either an inconvenient happenstance or a stroke of genius by Republican Council moles, the Mullinix appeal of their Agricultural Preservation "withdrawal" denial was heard first.  This set the tone for a group of Howard Countians that don't necessarily trust a set of Columbia Democrats fixing to tell them what to do with their land.  Mark Mullinix testified that when he entered the Ag Pres contract, two County officials and Senator Clark told him that when it was no longer profitable to farm, he could get out of the program.  He can't remember the last names of the two County officials, and Senator Clark is not available to defend himself, but the sentiment remained.  This was a case of city boys and their lawyers trying to pull a fast one.

Once the testimony on CB1-2013 began, it quickly became apparent that there is an available middle ground - expansion of the Agricultural Preservation program (possibly with increased grading for more valuable plots) and reworking the highest growth tiers to allow up to 7 residences per 100 acres, as opposed to Howard County's uniquely low 4 (a little confusion here, as there was also testimony that the State regulations stand at 5 residences per 100 acres).

The most interesting part of the night was when the owner of Cissel Farm testified, beginning his time with a "Viva La Revolution" fist pump and punctuating his parable of a rabbit-eating-fox wanting to go to Annapolis (that's you Ken) with whistles from a device that was represented to be the sound of a rabbit being tortured.  (See Flier writers - if I didn't lay the ground work here, no one would believe you that this happened.)  Every time Cissel would blow into his torture whistle, a set of 10-15 folks in the back of the room would stand up an sit down.  I'm afraid I don't know how this fox-goes-to-Annapolis story ends, because I was too distracted by my own internal monologue, "What the heck is going on here?"

The Council is close to a solution on Growth Tiers.  Hopefully Greg Fox can be a part of that, but I'm not really sure he is interested in compromising with the County Executive after having a 4-1 victory stripped away from him and executed at a press conference on Clarke Farm.  We, the taxpayers, may have to pay for it, but this is a better solution than having Western Howard County take the brunt of environmental legislation for no other reason than where they bought their land.

And maybe the Council should think about taking a position on props.


I was happy to have a letter to the editor published in the Flier supporting the Inner Arbor Plan for Symphony Woods Park.  I also truly appreciate all of the great e-mails sent in to the Board of Directors yesterday supporting the new Plan. 

By my cursory review of the past week's news stories out of Anne Arundel, it looks like the prosecution is laying down a very strong case against County Executive Leopold.  There have been secretaries crying on the stand about their constant fear of being fired, police officers testifying about pulling campaign signs, and a overall consistent theme of the County Executive abusing the power of his office (and lack of oversight), to use the County government as his kingdom.  Then again, there's a reason the defense gets to go second.

"We can't survive on $7.25!"  Maryland lawmakers are considering raising the minimum wage to $10/hr to make it the highest in the Country.  These are laws of unintended consequences, passing a silent tax on every Marylander and closing out jobs that employers can no longer afford.  I hope the General Assembly treads lightly and, if passed, includes provisions that allow employers to maintain current wages if it can be shown that the increase would threaten the viability of the job.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Julia posts about Symphony Woods and how "Columbia is a Verb".  I really liked this post and its push to continue Columbia instead of maintaining it.  These are the voices that need to be heard over the next three weeks.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!