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March 2012

BQA SUBMITS TEXT AMENDMENT

On February 13, 2012, a petition for text amendment was hand delivered to the Commissioner's office by the law offices of Stevens & McCann in Centreville on behalf of BUSINESS Queen Anne's.

 

The petition requested that the provisions to Chapter 18 of the County Code, Section 18: 1-22, 23 and 28 Urban Commercial: Suburban Industrial and Town Center respectively be amended to remove the "individual use/tenant occupancy" restriction on retail users.

 

Individual Queen Anne's County property owners and BQA board members, Nick Deoudes and Colby Garrett, were also listed as joint filers.

 

BQA feels that when the citizens vote to bring a Big Box store to Queen Anne's County, then we want all appropriate commercial zones to be available.

 

This text amendment will be presented (with staff reports) to the Planning Commission April 12th. 

FARM FUNDRAISER BRINGS IN OVER $100,000!
Save Farm Families
(Click on logo above to visit site and read about the Hudson lawsuit!)

 

The Farm Bureau Fundraiser held on February 18th at the 4 H Park in Centreville had a goal to raise $50,000. In the end, the total raised passed the $100,000 mark thanks to the support of the community!

 Chesapeake Bay Beach Club

  

 

Biana Arentz and husband, County Commissioner Steve Arentz, stand united with BQA Members Eugene McGuire (with wife Kate, and soon to be Mom of Reagan!) & Gene Deems.  

 

 

 

 

 

Past County Commissioner, Richard Smith with present County Commissioner Dave Olds and Farm Bureau member, Bill Sylvester. 

 

 

 

Supporters Andrea Franks & Jo Ann Wilkerson share a moment with County Commissioner Phil Dumenil

(Not pictured, but present was County Commissioner Bob Simmons)

 

 

  

 

 

 

A motley crew! Richard Smith, Howard Dean, BQA Board Member George O'Donnell, and Scott MacGlashan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Representing the farm community and preparing the food were some hard working men! Jamie Clough, Buddy Thomas, Robert Gunther & John Kozur

 

 
 
The QAC Farm Bureau is always looking for new members! Click here for their Membership Application! (State Application, Circle QA County)

SO WHAT NOW?

 

On March 1st, U.S. District Court Judge William M. Nickerson wrote denied Judgement Summary which means this case will go to trial. (In law, a summary judgment is a judgment entered by a court for one party and against another party summarily, i.e., without a full trial. Such a judgment may be issued on the merits of an entire case, or on discrete issues in that case.) Judge Nickerson stated, "After carefully reviewing all the argument, testimony, and evidence submitted by the parties, the Court cannot conclude, at this stage in the litigation, that any party is entitled to judgment."

 

One interesting paragraph in the order from the judge included histhoughts on former Plantiff, Assateague Coastkeeper, Kathlyn Phillips. That paragraph reads, "As counsel might detect, there are elements of this litigation that the Court finds disturbing. Particularly from the deposition testimony of former Plaintiff Kathlyn Phillips and the documents referenced in that deposition, it seems clear that the original Plaintiffs in this action were looking for an opportunity to bring a citizen suit under the CWA against some chicken production operation under contract with a major poultry integrator. When Phillips discovered a large pile on the Hudson Farm that she believed to be chicken litter, she concluded that she had found her "BAD APPLE." After the pile proved to be something other than chicken litter, Phillips continued to represent, apparently without any evidence, that the pile was tainted with chicken manure. Plaintiff's case has now gone from a large pile of uncovered chicken manure to small amounts of airborne litter from the exhaust fans, trace amounts brought out on shoes and tires, and a dustpan of litter left on the heavy use pads."

 

He also took a moment to educate the students at the University Maryland Clinic by saying, "Submitting briefs near the maximum page limit permitted under the Local Rules but with 767 single-spaced, small-fonted footnotes not only circumvents the spirit if not the letter of the Local Rules, but also makes for less than compelling advocacy. While this style might be appropriate for legal journals that few attempt to read, it is not helpful in the context of litigation." 
   
Finally, he voiced that "While this case is currently scheduled for trial to begin on April 16, 2012, the Court would certainly try to accommodate a request of the parties to meet again with a magistrate to attempt to resolve this dispute now that the case is more completely developed and before additional litigation resources are expended."

 

 

Another twist in this story worth noting is a Senate Bill (SB 945) that was presented by Senator Colburn that would require the University of Maryland, Baltimore to pay an amount not to exceed $500,000 to reimburse the Hudson Farm for legal expenses incurred as a defendant in a lawsuit in which the University of Maryland School of Law Environmental Law Clinic is representing the plaintiff at no charge. The changes of such a bill being passed is questionable, but the message it sends should be applauded!

 

 

ARENTZ ON BUDGET - TEACHERS PENSIONS

Budget proposals now being considered by the General Assembly bring dire consequences, undermining recent County efforts to structure a sustainable budget. Of greatest concern are proposals to redefine the County's public education obligations and to shift teacher pension burdens from the State to the County.

 

The redefinition of the County's public education obligation would cost $4.5 million with the pension shift costing $1.9 million, making the immediate new County burden $6.4 million. And, projections show the pension shift burden growing significantly each year due to past State neglect. The County cannot accommodate this new burden.

 

When the five newly elected Queen Anne's County Commissioners took office in 2010, they inherited a budget in disarray. There was a projected $19.2 million deficit, which was 17% of the baseline budget. This deficit arose from using reserves to fund operations; continuing substantial reductions in what had been longstanding State distributions, primarily for County roads; funding the school board at an unsustainable level; and the recession.

 

The Commission took difficult yet decisive actions to fix the budget mess, with a goal to create a sustainable budget. Expenditures were cut almost $11 million, with County employees taking the biggest hit. Now, the County workforce is approaching 20% less than what it was when the Commissioners took office. The remaining employees are truly being asked to do more with less. And, they have been furloughed and are paying twice what they had been paying for health insurance.

 

With three County Commissioners having kids in the public schools and a fourth having a grandchild attending public school, it is not surprising that reductions to school funding was a last resort. After the County cuts were implemented and to avoid the $10 million School Board cut recommended by a budget sustainability task force, taxes were increased.

Even with the tax hike, while the school board had to take a $4.5 million hit, on a percentage basis the County took twice the hit. And, to the School Board's credit, consistent with the Superintendent's assurance, classroom instruction was not compromised.

 

The budget mess has not been fully fixed as there remains a deficit attributable to the slow economic recovery and the need to fund reserves. But, the County now has the sustainable budget the Commissioners sought through their decisive action. This sustainable budget is completely undermined if the State budget proposals now on the table are implemented.

 

With the County's income tax now at the maximum rate, the only revenue recourse would be another property tax hike. To fund these new County burdens the State is considering, that property tax hike would approach nine cents.

With further School Board cuts likely to be precluded, the alternative to the property tax hike would be further cuts to the County. With the County workforce down to the bone, these cuts would certainly decimate already strained County services, such as those for road maintenance, EMS services, and deputy sheriff response.

If you agree that either alternative is unacceptable, please let you sentiments be known. And, if you have any questions or ideas about further promoting county budget sustainability, please contact the Commissioners. All five of us appreciate your input. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steven J. Arentz is the

President of the

Queen Anne's County Commissioners

In This Issue
BQA Submits Text Amendment
Farm Bureau Fundraiser
Teacher Pensions
Mark Your Calendar
County's Health Care Reform
 
At their Feb 28th meeting, the Queen Anne's County Commissioners met with consultants to discuss ways to change employee health benefits.

 

The goal is to find ways to save and one suggestion was to get health coverage independently rather than through the Eastern Shore of Maryland Educational Consortium.

 

Our very own board member, Al Helfenbein with Helfenbein Insurance has been involved with trying to get the County to make changes in regards to it's Healthcare Plan for years. According to Al, "

My total interest in the health insurance is to bring the highest quality at the lowest possible costs to retain the best teachers and county employees to serve our county as dedicated partners."

 

Al also noted that , "We know we have one of the highest "richest"  costs for health care. If we could discover our experience rating, that would assist in the efforts to reduce premiums." 

 
No decisions have been made and the Commissioners will revisit this issue in the near future.

 

Your BQA Board!

  

Camille O'Donnell, President

O'Donnell Properties

443-786-0200

odp1@atlanticbb.net

 

Mareen Waterman, Vice President

Coldwell Banker/Waterman Realty

410-643-5005

mareenwaterman@mris.com

 

Nick Deoudes

Deoudes-Magafan Realty, Inc.

410-827-5441

ndeoudes@atlanticbb.net

 

Mike Dahle

Bay Carpets Flooring America

410-820-7288

mdahle@baycarpets.com

 

Karen Oertel

Harris Crab House

410-827-8104

koertel@atlanticbbn.net

  

Tim Champion

Champion Improvements Inc.

410-643-4886

 improve@atlanticbb.net

 

Bob Wilson

Mears Point Marina

410-827-8888

bobwilson@mearspoint.com

 

Al Helfenbein

Helfenbein Insurance Agency

410-643-2291

al@helfenbein.com

 

Cheryl Russell

Delmarva Power

410-758-4127

cheryl.russell@delmarva.com

  

Barry Griffith

Lane Engineering

410-758-2095

bgriffith@leinc.com

 

Steve Donovan

Title One & Associates, Inc.

410-758-1831

smd@annapolis.net

 

Colby Garrett 

CM Garrett, Inc.  

410-643-8686    

colby@cmgarrett.com

  

George O'Donnell

ASTECH SECURITY

410-490-7400 

george@astechsecurity.com

 

Sandra Early 

Administrator  

410-643-6288  

sandra.early@verizon.net

   

   

   

BQA Membership
New Investment Rate!

  

Business Queen Anne's is now offering a special rate for new members!

 

 $99 per year for three years!

 

Click the link below to download an application!

   

 
 

 

Mark Your Calendar...

 

County Commissioner's Meeting

Second and Fourth

Tuesday of the month!

Click here for weekly agendas!

107 N. Liberty Street
Centreville, MD 21617
  
Planning Commission Meetings
160 Coursevall Drive
 Centreville, MD 21617

 

Next Planning Commission Meeting is April 12th!!

   

 

 
 

 

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