Council Approves Amended Redistricting Plan
Change affects Essex while Woodlawn and Loch Hill precincts move according to commission proposal.
The Baltimore County Council approved an amended redistricting plan that makes changes in Essex but did not include one change Councilman Ken Oliver wanted for Woodlawn.
The plan, approved by a 7-0 vote, keeps a waterfront precinct of less than 1,000 people in the 6th District, which is represented by Democratic Councilwoman Cathy Bevins. A plan proposed by the county's first Redistricting Commission moved it into the 7th District, which is represented by Council Chairman John Olszewski Sr., also a Democrat.
The council unanimously approved the Bevins-Olszewski amendment.
Oliver sponsored an amendment that would have kept a precinct that voted at Woodlawn High School in his district. The commission moved the precinct into the 1st District, represented by Councilman Tom Quirk.
Last week, Oliver threatened legal action if his amendment was not adopted. At a council work session on Tuesday, Oliver introduced John Phoebus, a Crisfield attorney, as his lawyer.
Phoebus, in an interview after the meeting last week, said he was Oliver's "back up plan."
Oliver ultimately withdrew his amendment before it could be voted on and vowed to work with Quirk to represent the area.
After the meeting, Oliver said he had not made a final decision on pursuing a lawsuit to overturn the council's plan.
The bill cannot be vetoed by the county executive and would go into effect in early December. The new districts become effective for the 2014 election.
The changes could be delayed by a referendum.
Ella White Campbell, a Liberty Road community activist, told Patch last week that a group she is affiliated with was considering a challenge that would place the plan on the 2012 ballot.
Councilman David Marks did not introduce an amendment attempting to move Loch Hill and it’s nearly 200 residents back into his district as community associations representing the area had hoped.
"I agree with my constituents that this area should remain in the 5th district," Marks said. "However, fundementally, this area cannot remain in the district."
There was insuffucient support on the council to split a precinct. Swapping one precinct for another would have been unfair to other communities that would be affected, Marks said.
David Kosak, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, called the vote disappointing because parts of Towson will be represented by three councilmembers.
"We're just frustrated," Kosak said. "We believe that Towson hasn't been represented in a number of years. This proves the point that we need to review the (County) Charter and have changes that might lead to more councilmembers.