Howard County Councilmember David Yungmann provided the following updates on legislation acted upon on October 7, 2019:
The County Council held votes on several controversial pieces of legislation last night. In the interest of time I declined to make long statements about my votes. Below is a summary of why I voted as I did.
CR-112: REDISTRICTING RESOLUTION. I was the sole NO vote. While a series of amendments removed some of the most offensive racially-charged language from the original draft, many references to race remained along with numerous unproven statements about student achievement. I reject any redistricting policy based on income or race, or not in accordance with BOE/HCPSS policy.
CR-122,123 and CB-40. I voted in favor of the new storm water management requirements for the Tiber and Plumtree watersheds. While these standards will impact individual property rights and were opposed by the development industry, I believe the need to protect residents and property in these unusually vulnerable areas from flash floods justifies this imposition. The new rules also strengthened the requirement that the new level of SWM be achieved onsite and more than doubled the fees if the new requirements can’t be achieved onsite. With the new regulations now in place, I voted against extension of the building moratorium that was imposed last year so these new standards could be developed.
CB-38: Patapsco Lower North Branch Watershed. I was one of the 3 NO votes. Private property rights are one of the most important values in America. Before I support a restriction of those rights, I need to be clear on the problem we are trying to solve, why the restriction will solve it and what negative consequences will occur from the new rules. This bill was sold to the public as needed to protect Ellicott City from flooding. Numerous professionals testified that the new standards we did approve last night would achieve that goal (CR-122/123) and none strongly supported the need for CB-38. Much of the area covered by the bill is nowhere near OEC or the Tiber Branch. Even after some appreciated amendments, the bill would have impacted public projects, Rt. 1 development, community enhancements and other goals set forth in the general plan.
CB-42: School Facilities Surcharge (Impact Fees). We voted unanimously to table this bill until next month. We are well aware that time is money and I believe we all support an increase in these fees, but there are tremendous costs, risks and opportunities in this policy so we need to get it right. When the Council held its monthly work session of this session, neither school planning nor planning and zoning could attend. We are still working through what the State Delegation legally empowered us to do, enrollment projections, growth assumptions, how the money will be spent, how to leverage it, its impact on other county goals and making sure we keep Howard County regionally competitive. I hope we will resolve all of the open issues in October.
CB-41: Zoning Case Navigator. My bill to create this position was defeated 3-2. The bill would have required the Council to establish a position dedicated to assisting the public with our complicated land use process. Because many parties to land use cases are represented by attorneys, and because the processes are complicated and many times quasi-judicial, unrepresented parties need support. The reasons for the no votes ranged from lack of budgeted funds to wanting to reconsider the position as part of a future reorganization of the Council administrative operations.