Two years ago, the voters of the Fifth District entrusted me with the responsibility of representing them on the Baltimore County Council. I would like to thank my family, community leaders, business owners, and everyone who has contacted my office to offer their advice and support.
I promised to be an independent voice on the County Council, and I have differed with some of my colleagues and the administration on some issues. I joined with my Republican colleague Todd Huff to oppose an expansion of the speed camera program, for instance, and to support term limits for County Councilmembers. But I also promised to build coalitions across party lines to get things done for our communities.
Reforming county government. One of my first bills required that an input meeting for a proposed development optimally be held near the affected neighborhood. That bill set the stage for several bills, many of which I cosponsored with Councilman Tom Quirk, that have made county government more accessible to the public. We reformed the Planned Unit Development process by requiring agency review and a Community Input Meeting before a County Councilmember initiates a PUD resolution. We passed a bill that expands a property tax credit for energy-efficient homes, and enacted legislation that requires on-line posting of proposed regulations.
Preserving open space. I am perhaps most proud of the bill I sponsored this year that created the first-ever open space zoning classification. During the rezoning process, we designated 173 acres in the Fifth District as "open space zoning," more than any other Council district. Altogether, at my request, the Council downzoned more than 417 acres to protect our communities from overdevelopment, including the most land ever downzoned in Towson, Carney, and the Cromwell Valley.
Strengthening our businesses and communities. Finally, I am happy that with limited resources, we have worked with the Kamenetz administration on some important local initiatives. New additions were funded at Stoneleigh and Hampton Elementary Schools; air conditioning is scheduled for Seven Oaks Elementary School. Acreage was added at Honeygo Park in Perry Hall, and a dog park is closer to becoming a reality. New sidewalks and trails are advancing throughout the district, routes like Chapel and Forge Roads are being resurfaced, and new businesses are anchoring Downtown Towson and Downtown Perry Hall thanks to a boost from county government.
In closing, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the police, firefighters, and other public servants who have admirably served the Fifth District during four emergencies over the past two years. Three were natural--the two hurricanes and the Derecho--and one was the shooting at Perry Hall High School.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you, and to those of you who have engaged me and commented on Patch in a thoughtful manner. I always appreciate your input.