Friday, July 31, 2009
“If I’m on the golf course and lightning starts, I get inside fast. If God wants to play through, let him.”
Phillip Rousseau specifically complains that his “home is about ¾ of a mile from the Seiling Industrial Park site. Historically, this property has been used for low intensity use, most recently as the set for the TV show “The Wire.” Plaintiff Rousseau and his wife will be severely harmed if the site is redeveloped into big box grocery stores as would be allowed under Final Development Plan Amendment, FDP 117-A-II, approved by the Howard County Planning Board in January of 2008.”
The complaint goes on to allege that:
"It has been estimated that were the entire property to develop in this manner, such development would generate huge increases in traffic on Snowden River Parkway behind Plaintiff’s home.
Plaintiff is aware that as of this time there is one big box grocery store—a Wegmans-- which is seeking approval to be constructed from Howard County. With Wegmans built, more and more large trucks will traverse Snowden River Parkway behind Plaintiff’s home because the parkway provides direct access to the distribution trucks coming from the mid west and providing goods to the store. Many of these trucks are diesel and will bring with them the additional fumes, dust, and noise, emanating from such engines.
The construction of Wegmans, a regional shopping venue, will draw shoppers from all over the region. Shoppers coming from western and southwestern Howard County, Montgomery County and Carroll County will likely use Snowden River Parkway behind Plaintiff’s home to get to and from the store.
Such additional truck and vehicle traffic behind Plaintiff’s home, resulting from the completion of a Wegmans store, will severely and negatively affect Plaintiff and his family’s ability to enjoy their home and the value of their property. "
What is truly interesting to me is the complaint about truck traffic and diesel fumes. What Phil fails to mention in this complaint is that, prior to being used to film “The Wire”, this property was used for the regional distribution of medical products by Cardinal Health. If anything the amount of truck traffic has actually decreased as the nature of the area has shifted from industrial to retail uses.
And the status of this case?
According to Kevin Enright, the county has yet to be served. Go figure that! Someone should tell Phil that the county offices are now almost as close to his house as the Wegmans site
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I had no way of knowing how timely my request would be. This morning I received an email from a regular Tales of Two Cities commenter, Lotsabogeys, informing me that the lawsuit filed on behalf of Paul Kendall, et al, claiming that the county had deprived them of their First Amendment rights, their right to “substantive due process and equal protection as established by the Fourteenth Amendment” and their right “to petition the government for redress of grievances as protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution has been “dismissed without prejudice.”
A few months back when Frank Martin asked me why I hadn’t written anything about his lawsuit (he was one of the “et al” parties) I told it was because I thought the whole exercise was ridiculous.
Apparently the judge agreed.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
PAUL F. KENDALL, et al., *
v. * Civil No. JFM 09-CV-369
HOWARD COUNTY, MARYLAND, *
et al., *
Defendants. * *
For the reasons stated in the accompanying opinion, it is, this 30th day of July 2009
1. Plaintiffs’ motion for a preservation order (document 11) is denied;
2. Plaintiffs’ motion and application for preliminary injunction (document 17) is denied;
3. Defendants’ motion to dismiss (document 19) is granted in part and denied in part;
4. Plaintiffs’ claims for equitable or discretionary relief are dismissed;
5. Plaintiffs’ claims for money damages are stayed for a period of at least sixty days; and
6. This case is administratively closed.
J. Frederick Motz
United States District Judge
A big wag of the wordbones tail to Lotsabogeys….here’s hoping you get more birdies!
According to this story by Mike Santa Rita in the Howard County Times this week, “county officials are considering installing a paid parking system or making the entire street into a timed zone where parkers would have to leave after a certain time period without simply moving to another spot along the street.”
Parking in Ellicott City has been a hotly debated topic among the locals for some time now. While some, including me, have advocated for a parking garage and the elimination of on-street parking on Main Street, others have insisted that there is plenty of parking already in the old town and that the parking problem is overstated.
Steve Lafferty, the Director of Special Projects for the Department of Planning and Zoning thinks a paid parking program might address some of the parking issues that some merchants believe are a detriment to business.
“Currently county officials are in discussions with Ellicott City merchants to decide whether to pursue paid parking on Main Street or whether to make the entire street a timed zone, Lafferty said. Meetings on the topic are planned for August, he said.”
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
“How does it work for folks in single-family homes or townhouses? Do you pay extra for recycling? Is it funded through property taxes? Am I wrong to be annoyed?”
Well SH, I contacted Josh Feldmark, the county environmental czar, and got some answers for you. As it turns out, owners of townhomes and single family homes in the county pay an annual recycling fee of $39.00. For “several years” this service was provided to county apartment dwellers at no charge “but that program fell victim to budget cuts.”
“With the cancellation of the program, if the complex wants to continue recycling, they can do one of three things. We will continue having our contractors pick up the recycling for a fee that we pass on to the residents. They can sign up for the Chamber of Commerce's new recycling co-op or they can arrange a private contract the same way they do for trash.”
I asked Josh to identify some of the apartment complexes that have taken some of these steps. He cited Bowling Book, Columbia Town Center, Autumn Crest, Elkridge Town Center and Orchard Park apartment complexes as participating in the Chamber co-op program and he further informed me that Poplar Glen, Village Towns and Gatherings at Lynwood have arrangements with private contractors.
And as to the final question as to whether it is wrong to be annoyed, I'd have to say no. The only question is who to be annoyed with. If it were me and my apartment complex did not have a recycling program I’d be annoyed with the management.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Not quite. It turns out that the liquor license for the space adjacent to the restaurant was never “extended” and therefore the restaurant was compelled by the Liquor Board to move this operation to the gazebo space where they still had an active license.
The move is temporary. According to Billy, one of the restaurant managers, the tables will return around August 12th…if all goes well that is.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The apartment complex, which is owned by the Howard County Housing Commission, charges rents “which require residents to pay no more than thirty percent of household income, are encouraging dependence in some residents.”
So what’s 30% of nothing?
Staying at the lodge is not cheap. Room rates this time of year range from $219 to $240 per night. For that you get a room comparable to a mid priced hotel with a very small bathroom. On the plus side, the windows in the rooms open so you can turn off the a/c and enjoy the cool mountain air in the evenings.
Forget about newspapers. On the weekends, none are delivered to the hotel, not even to the small gift shop. On weekdays you can get a copy of USA Today. Oddly, you can’t even get a copy of the Cumberland Times News which is published just seven miles down the road. Internet access is provided at $6 a day.
There are plenty of things to do, golf, tennis, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and fishing are all available in the park. Nearby Cumberland even offers some nightlife, on Friday nights in particular. Before we left this morning Mama Wordbones and I biked around the town an even took in a portion of the C&O Canal towpath. That was where I spotted this nice memorial to the Irish laborers who perished during the building of the canal.
Absolutely. It is a nice getaway about two hours and less than three quarters of a tank of gas (in an SUV) from here.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
We arrived yesterday afternoon and soon after we headed out on our bikes for the Lakeside Loop Trail, a 4.7 mile trail around the 243 acre Lake Habeeb. We figured it would make a nice leisurely ride before cocktail hour.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The bigger story to me though is the increasing number of registered voters in Howard County who list no party affiliation.
“The numbers are definitely in the Democrats' favor -- Barack Obama won Howard County with roughly 87,000 votes to John McCain's 55,000 last November. Both parties have lost about 1,000 registered voters since November, but the imbalance remains.
As of June, there were roughly 84,000 registered Democrats in Howard County compared to about 54,000 Republicans. Nearly 31,000 voters list no party affiliation, making them open game for both parties.”
That would include this old dog.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
This seems to happen all the time at Lakeside. No matter which side of the political spectrum you lean towards, the chances are pretty good that, on any given day, more local politics will be discussed and debated in this little coffee shop than anywhere else in Howard County.
The first was the human foosball table. They put six people in this big box and connected them with harnesses to PVC pipes and then dropped a large soft fluffy ball in the middle of them. It was a riot to watch and it looked like fun to play as well. Perhaps someone could steal this idea for the 2010 Columbia Festival of the Arts.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
It’s almost as bad as congressional earmarks. Monday night, at the public hearing on CB 29, the usual suspects lined up to demand that any village center redevelopment include affordable housing if redevelopment plans include a residential component.
Under the banner of “full spectrum of housing” the housing activists want any new residential component to set aside 30% of the units for affordable housing. The 30% allocation would be broken down by 10% for families making between $60K and $80K annually, 10% for families making between $40K and $60K annually and 10% for families making less than $40K annually.
To be fair, these advocates recognize that some villages like
While this is certainly a laudable effort to provide housing for those “police officers, firemen, teachers and waiters” who are currently priced out of this market, putting up additional hurdles for developers to jump through won’t help save the village centers.
I thought the whole idea of CB 29 was to actually make it easier to redevelop the ailing village centers.
This really comes as no surprise to this old dog. Alan has been Liz Bobo’s hand puppet ever since he came on the local political scene as the “spokesperson” for CoFoCoDo a little over two years ago. As near as I can tell, this appears to be his only community service credential, an unelected mouthpiece.
Mary Kay on the other hand has a long history of community service including tenure on the Harpers Choice Village Board and the Board of Education.
Jeez Liz, is this the best you can do?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
New Cut Road was realigned with the construction of the new Glen Mar United Methodist church. The old New Cut Road has been renamed Baugher Farm Road and is now restricted to right turns only from Route 103.
The new signal is expected to operational next spring.
While many will applaud this new traffic control device there will undoubtedly be some grousing about yet another traffic light on Montgomery Road.
Monday, July 20, 2009
“After a brief run to $3 per share, the stock has pulled back down to $1.65. This is not due to any fundamental change, but just the fact the buzz wore off the stock, temporarily. If anything, the recent court rulings and general improvement in the economy and banking sector bode well for General Growth.”
This is indeed good news for the company and its Columbia Town Center redevelopment plan as it moves toward county council deliberations on ZRA 113 this fall.
Despite the past failed attempts to incorporate, the current push by the Columbia Association to have a greater role in Columbia zoning issues could simply be a back door attempt to circumvent the popular will. According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun yesterday, Paul Johnson, the deputy county solicitor, “feels incorporation would be the only way for the town's residents to get zoning authority, an opinion shared by the Maryland attorney general's office, said spokeswoman Raquel Guillory.”
This is all the more reason to resist the efforts to create a new community based “gatekeeper” for Columbia to replace General Growth Properties. Gatekeeper is simply another euphemism for mayor.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
It was a great evening. Mama Wordbones packed us a picnic dinner with a bottle of wine and we dined on the grounds before the performance. The weather was unseasonably cool and the performance in the park under the stars was a perfect way to enjoy a summer evening.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I wondered how much they pay these guys.
Today, I was driving though the same intersection and there was yet another fellow standing there holding a sign. I parked the car and walked back to talk to him.
Friday, July 17, 2009
“From May 2008 to May 2009, the region lost 55,000 jobs. But during that same period, nearly 20,000 jobs were created, mainly in the federal government and federal contracting sector. Some analysts say they expect the net job losses by the end of the year to disappear, becoming a net gain of 10,000 jobs.”
This region may not exactly be recession-proof but thanks to Uncle Sam we’re much better off than most areas of the country.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
“They just decided to push the opening back to the fourth quarter of this year,” he told me.
Yesterday I donated fifty cents to find out.
“We are Deeper Life Christian Church and we are helping the poor,” I was told by a gentleman wearing a Ravens baseball cap.
“I’ve never heard of your church. Are you located around here?”
“Our nearest church is in Roanoke, Virginia.”
That set off some alarm bells in my head but by then the light turned green. He handed me a small slip of paper with the church name and website on it.
It turns out that the church is actually located in Tampa and has been the subject of some investigative reporting by the Tampa Tribune. They operate much like a cult.
"Yet while their followers live in poverty and beg for donations from those who would “help feed needy women and children,” the Jeffersons live in a 10,000-square-foot home in Brandon. Bishop Jefferson drives a Bentley Arnage, worth as much as $150,000. The couple wear tailor-made clothing and travel in a private jet.
Moreover, records show the bishop has bought a substantial amount of land for the church, spending $2 million on properties in Hillsborough County since 1992. Yet the church has a history of leaving debts unpaid."
Now I’m sorry I gave them fifty cents.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Since when does the council need to wait for special interest groups to conduct their own due diligence?
Cindy would be advised to remember that the Columbia Association is private homeowners association that is primarily charged with maintaining the open space and recreational facilities in Columbia, not setting zoning policy for the town. Its representatives, such as Cindy, are barely able to achieve any kind of legitimacy due to low voter turnout in the homeowner association elections.
Cindy goes on to complain that “It appears rushed and very disrespectful of the people of Columbia who simply are not getting a voice. “
Is Cindy insinuating that the duly elected members of the county council are not the voice of the people who elected them?
Who does she think they represent?
I think Cindy honestly believes that she represents the “people of Columbia” more than Mary Kay Sigaty. In her last election she received 315 votes out of a total of 500 cast. In her last election Mary Kay Sigaty received 13,798 votes of a total of 21,402 cast.
Based on these numbers Cindy Coyle’s voice is about as significant as this blog.
I further suspect this prime piece of Town Center real estate will soon be available for sale.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
“Barring some cataclysm, Mr. O'Malley will be the party's gubernatorial nominee in 2010, of course. But there are rumblings already about who will be best positioned to be the 2014 nominee.
Along with Messrs. Smith, Franchot and Gansler, that not-so-small list includes Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Perhaps former congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume will try to build upon his solid 2006 Senate primary effort.”
At least at that point he’ll be over forty!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The relatively new outdoor adventure center has climbing towers, zip lines, kayaking and this pretty cool three person swing.
It will still be awhile before it opens though but at least we can now see physical progress.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Unfortunately, she didn’t take at all to wearing the headphones. They sat unused in the rear utility compartment. Occasionally I’d attempt to reintroduce her to the headphone concept only to be continually rebuffed. I kept the batteries fresh just in case.
Yesterday, as we drove out to run some errands, Peanut pulled out the Bambi DVD and I drew the line. No headphones. No Bambi.
Surprisingly, she acquiesced. Bambi was silenced and I drove in peace thanking the marketing person who thought wireless headphones for car DVD players would be a good idea.
You are in luck.
The East Columbia branch of the Howard County library has been officially designated a Passport Acceptance Facility by the U.S. Department of State. Beginning August 10th, the general public will able to apply for passports and purchase passport photos at this branch of the library system.
Why is this better than the post office?
Unlike the post office, if there is a line at the passport desk at the library you will be given a pager so you can browse the library or sit and read a book while you wait. How good is that?
The new library passport desk will officially open on August 10th and the hours will be Monday through Thursday, 3 pm to 7 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.
A wag of the wordbones tail goes out to Jessie X for bringing this item to Tales of Two Cities.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I happen to think that this is a very bad idea.
First and foremost is the legacy of the CA Board. This is a group of individuals that has a history of infighting and dysfunction. They have proven time and time again to be challenged in dealing with their own parks and recreation issues much less planning and zoning issues.
Secondly, CA is a private homeowners association that only covers the CPRA lien paying parcels that make up Columbia. Columbia today encompasses several parcels that while physically are inside Columbia, are not subject to the lien and therefore are not represented on the CA Board.
And finally, approximately 25% of CA’s budget comes from lien assessments on commercial properties that are located outside of a village and consequently have no voting rights in the organization. This disenfranchisement contradicts the notion that the CA Board truly “represents” Columbia.
Using my own convoluted logic, I was able to link this problem with the debate of the Columbia village center redevelopment legislation, CB 29. I wonder if these some of these community activists, who seem intent to play armchair quarterback on local development, channeled their energies towards the real problems of our community how much better place this might be.
You can read this month’s column here.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Mope was always fun to party with and he liked to party. In fact, he liked to party a little too much. Over time, as most of the rest of our class moved on with marriage, jobs and kids, Mope sort of stayed behind and tried to keep the party going. He married once but never had any kids, which is fortunate because Mope is an alcoholic.
I don’t see much of Mope these days. He no longer works, his disease took a bad turn a year ago and it did some serious damage both mentally and physically. He doesn’t drive anymore (again thankfully) and his daily routine is a far cry from mine. Still, every other month or so, we talk on the phone. The other day, out of the blue, Mope called me.
“Did I call you at a bad time,” he asked
“I’m just driving over to Costco to pick up a few things.”
“There you go my brother. You and I are in sync again today.”
“I was just calling you to tell you about this great salsa I got from Costco. It’s a peach and mango blend. I put some on some salmon the other day and it was da bomb.”
He proceeded to tell me exactly where in Costco I would find this particular salsa. He even gave me the brand name. We hung up when I pulled into the parking lot.
“Check it out,” he suggested as we concluded the call.
Sure enough, it was right where he said it would be. I picked up a jar and then reeled in some salmon from Trader Joe’s.
Mope was right. It was “da bomb.” This stuff on fish makes an easy and very tasty summer meal.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
According to this story by Sarah Krouse in the Washington Business Journal, the new Ellicott Gardens apartment complex in Columbicott City will utilize a windmill to supplement the power requirements for the projects common areas.
"The windmill will contribute to the energy needed for the building's public areas including the corridors, lobby, parking garage, and gym. The windmill will generate about 400 kilowatt hours per month - to offer a little perspective, a compact fluorescent light bulb used all month would equal about 18 kilowatt hours."
While some developers contribute public art to their projects, Old Town Construction gave this project a gift that will keep on giving…as long as the wind blows anyway.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
“This was not unexpected as General Growth had initially said when it filed it had hope to file a plan "by the end of the year". If you follow bankruptcies, you know that those initial deadlines are rarely met due to the complex nature of the process. But, having the clarity is a good thing. It would be shocking were this extension not granted. The only way I can see it done is if Gropper decides to consolidate the filings and just cram down all debt. In that scenario (unlikely), the reorg plan becomes very simple overnight.”
In the meantime, the company is continuing to move forward with its Town Center redevelopment plans.
The study will “cover a range of issues from determining the adequacy of the existing housing inventory to providing insight into the anticipated demands for new types of housing due to BRAC growth.”
Monday, July 06, 2009
Fitness 19 is the latest “fitness” club to appear on the local scene. Their unique shtick is their claim that membership will always cost $19.00 per month. I guess that just doesn’t leave much money for a respectable marketing effort.
I figure that if Fitness 19 can toss rocks at my house I should be able to return the favor. The next time I’m over by their sales center in Lynwood, I think I’ll just toss it back their way.
Find more videos like this on HoCoMoJo
A big wag of the Wordbones tail goes out to Dave Bittner and HoCoMoJo for this in depth look at one of the hottest development topics in Columbia this summer.
“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday that it has awarded a grant to American Rivers to dismantle Simkins and Union dams, two of four dams obstructing the flow of the Lower Patapsco.”
Union Dam in Daniels is fairly accessible while getting to Simkins is a little more problematic. This old dog parked his truck in the upper loading area of the plant and then climbed down a steep slope to the dam. It was well worth it. The river is beautiful this time of year.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Before long I heard a faint but familiar rumble of a train in the distance and before I could adjust my camera it was across the river.
As odd as this may sound, these contrasting scenes seemed to be in perfect harmony this morning.
Happy July 4th!
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Fours years later I think he’d ask the same question.
I also noticed the missing mailbox in front of the ACB was still missing. How long does it take to repair a mailbox?
Perhaps it will never be replaced. In the latest issue of The Week, I read that “the volume of U.S. mail plummeted 14.9 percent, thanks to both the recession and electronic communications. The U.S. Postal Service now stands to lose up to $12 billion this fiscal year.”
I wonder if these slices of "Americana” will be on Preservation Howard County endangered sites next year.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
"The new library will be a looming post-modern structure completely out of place along what used to be the wagon trail that pioneers traveled during the great westward expansion,"
In the same article she lauds the Forest Diner as “a real piece of Americana”
Okay, I sort of get that, but I doubt that those wagon trail pioneers she so fondly recalls would have recognized the Forest Diner any more than they would the new library. If anything, the new library building is a vast improvement over the existing library.