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A new council, but is it a NEW council?

While Historic Ellicott City struggles to find funds for proper flood mitigation, people have been digging into what the last council did and authorized regarding developments upstream to the beleaguered and flood-prone lower Main area. One such property is 8960 Frederick Road, better known as the Tiber Woods project. The project will be bringing more than 35 new townhomes to the area. What was striking about this project are TWO important things:

  1. according to the letter seen below, the wetlands for the parcels were declared to NOT be under the jurisdiction of Howard County. Interesting, because where there is one such property there are surely more.

But then THIS was found…

2. the developer of the property paid what is called an APFO fee-in- lieu payment for road improvements and STREAM RESTORATION?? So, DPZ and DPW approved a payment from the developer of about $165,000 and gave them wiring instructions this past year??

And what capital project budget did it get placed into, you ask? Well, none other than the same exact one that was used by Ken Ulman to purchase the Bickley House written about in the last post (http://www.ecsmart.org/ellicott-city-safe-for-a-safe-house )on this site! And what is money in that project currently now allegedly being used to fund?? (You’ll also see a new line item, “developer contribution”, which is a new line item from the 2018 capital budget, so the prior council and our current County Exec certainly knew about this):

  • Concept design for Parking Lot F
  • Partial funding for Parking Lot E improvements
  • Re-paving of Main Street
  • Repaired walls at Tonge Row, Court Ave, etc

Maybe someone with the County Exec office will be able to shed light upon this APFO fee-in-lieu that no one I’ve talked to yet has heard of. Are developers able to get their way with their projects in spite of what citizens request and protest? Why is a developer able to shuck responsibility for stream restoration in the Tiber watershed, or any watershed for that matter?

On the campaign trail, Dr. Ball was asked several times questions regarding what one citizen called “the disproportionate influence of companies” in the community. One wonders if the influence that prior Executive Kittleman claimed to have “eliminated” during his tenure, has resurfaced in this administration? In what may end up being a prophecy for what we can expect from the newly-installed council, a current council Resolution is scheduled to be voted upon tonight, February 4, 2019. It’s a Resolution put for by Chair Rigby at the request of Executive Ball (CR-9), and it involves Erickson Living. Erickson will be developing 1400 units in that project, and Ball is asking by Resolution to commit the County to paying for the realignment of an intersection through a no-bidding process for more than a million dollars. Watching the televised public testimony at council, you could hear citizen after citizen expressing their frustration and outrage that they are having to deal with something that had no pre-submission public hearing, and that they thought they had already “won” in what I’ll call lower arenas of government.

One citizen emphatically claimed himself to be a Democrat, had voted in the election responsible for the results, and essentially asked “please don’t make me regret…” before he ran out of time. The source isn’t going to be revealed for this, but word on the streets is that the vote has already been decided and that 3-2 the council is going to vote FOR the resolution anyway. In a few hours, we shall see. But if the info is credible, here’s where I see the vote, give or take:

District 1, Walsh: No

District 2, Jones (“baby Calvin”): Yes

District 3, Rigby: Yes

District 4, Jung: No

District 5, Yungmann: Yes

We are noting that:

“Pay-to-play”: (in “money green” color, purposefully)

“..it’s offensive and quite concerning” -Calvin Ball, while a candidate for County Executive at League of Women Voters forum

“..those who broke laws should have been prosecuted” if there really is some sort of pay-to-play. – Calvin Ball, while candidate at above forum

Here’s where Kittleman got it RIGHT… “it’s not illegal”- at that same forum. Nice dodge of the question, Calvin, but Slavery wasn’t illegal either and yet… And thanks for letting us know that despite it not being illegal, and despite how it looks, you’re down “with it”… OBVIOUSLY, when one looks at the developer money-grab that is your post-election campaign finance report. Did ANY unaffiliated-with-business contribution get accepted by the Ball campaign? Well, here’s Erickson, right before the your pre-filed legislation:

If this is what Howard County wants for its elected officials, then by all means, do nothing. For those who haven’t seen the spectacle and parade of developer money that found it’s way into Dr. Ball’s campaign coffers post-election, buckle up for the following ride:

https://www.campaignfinance.maryland.gov/Public/FiledReports?FileName=CampaignFinanceReport_Public_8cc888e8-8cd8-41db-aced-1c9a2483faa6.pdf&CommitteeID=3104&FilingCalendarID=218

Here’s an idea for citizens: how about instead of paying a plastic bag fee, you collect your coins together so that the ears of elected officials will perk up and take notice when YOU want something? No one wants to talk about these things openly, but it’s time that they do, because by too many accounts it appears that we may be headed for Ulman Years 2.0 (which makes sense since he was on Ball’s transition team!)

* hopefully, the “news on the streets” is wrong.

** with the expiration of the building moratorium approaching, someone should see what the Army Corps of Engineers has to say about jurisdiction for 8960 Frederick wetlands! Is it possible that we collecting money from a developer for something that actually is under Federal control?? If so, WHY?

The forum, mentioned above, put on by the League of Women Voters. The discussion begins around 16 minutes in, and lasts a little past 21 minutes in.

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