Thursday, 17 March 2011 19:00
He explained that one of the first things the five commissioners did was to establish the “Ten Governing Principles” to ensure that everyone on the team had the same understanding of how they would operate. Then they made a large agenda schedule to make sure they continue to stay on track with all the items they hoped to accomplish. Commissioners meet in Westminster on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with many decisions to be made on those days, and many visits and meetings to attend on their “off” days.
Some of the Board’s other first steps seemed commonsense to Howard, but ended up being controversial. For one, they started the habit of opening their meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, which has sparked criticism from some residents. “We’re not trying to inflict our beliefs on anybody else….we need the guidance,” Howard reflected.
Another surprisingly controversial move was to remove Carroll County from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), a U.N.-inspired organization that was established in 1990 over concerns for “sustainability” but whose policies may adversely affect agricultural areas like Carroll County. Howard said he was surprised to received criticism from various parts of the nation – but then he held up a stack of supportive, encouraging e-mails that had come in from all over the world regarding this decision.
One decision that has recently been made that will affect Eldersburg personally: This summer, the county will be extending Dickenson Road so that it meets Hemlock Road this summer. Dickenson runs westward from Oklahoma, between McDonald’s and Oklahoma Road Middle School, and then stops before it gets to Hemlock. Howard explained that this dead-end road has become a traffic safety issue and also that the commissioners felt they needed to keep the commitment they had made to the business in that area who expected their customers to have safe access to their buildings.
Another factor that could affect many Eldersburg residents in the future is the development of the Warfield Complex, as surplus buildings in the Springfield property are turned into corporate business sites. The town of Sykesville made a proposal to annex the property years ago, which includes a commitment to maintaining it and also keeping it from becoming detrimental to the businesses in downtown Sykesville. Howard said that the parties involved must work toward a cohesive vision and marketing plan, and he hopes they will attract businesses there soon. With that development, and the expansion of Ft. Meade through BRAC, there are many opportunities to expand the tax base and develop the local economy. “We have very highly educated, very talented work force” living in the area, Howard pointed out, and there is a great deal of opportunity for jobs and businesses to come here.
Howard holds office hours twice a month to meet with constituents District 5 –- one morning and one evening per month.
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