Updates were recorded live during the meeting.
Perry Hall Improvement Association President Dennis M. Robinson, Jr. opened the organization's March meeting. Attendance at the meeting was higher than usual. Nearly every seat was filled.
Robinson allowed a proponent of preserving the Essex Skypark, Tom Katzenberger, to speak during the meeting. Katzenberger thanked community members for supporting an effort to keep the skypark from being demolished for an environmental effort. He thanked Councilman David Marks and Councilwoman Cathy Bevins for their support of the skypark.
Robinson introduced Marks and Bevins and asked meeting attendees to be civil while asking questions.
Councilperson Cathy Bevins spoke about recent efforts during her two-year administration. She said she has focused on working with community organizations and constituent services, including road issues and other quality-of-life issues.
"I believe in strong relationships with my constituents and with my colleagues. ... I am a Democrat and David Marks is a Republican. Our areas are similar in many ways. We work together well. We agree to disagree," she said.
"When you send me an email, I don't know if you're a Republican, a Democrat or even a registered voter—you're entitled to services," Bevins said.
At the beginning of the meeting, Bevins asked how many community members she represents as part of her small portion of Perry Hall. A few attendees raised their hands.
Bevins said that because of redistricting, she will not represent any part of Perry Hall in the new district in 2014. She said, however, she will continue to work with and serve Perry Hall.
"It's a great district to represent. It's a diverse district," she said.
An attendee asked Bevins why she was not in favor of term limits. She opposed a proposal by Marks to limit county councilmember terms to no more than three.
"I believe elections are term limits ... they're not all the way across the board ... state legislators do not have term limits," she said. "If voters want someone out, they'll vote them out ... if I'm disappointed in someone's performance, I'll vote them out."
An attendee said that wasn't practical.
"I just say, it's not something across the board. Until our state legislators have to do it, why should we?" Bevins said.
"But shouldn't it start here in the county with term limits, grassroots?" an attendee said.
"It's not a law I have to abide by right now ... if I'm not doing a good job, I won't get reelected," Bevins said.
"[David's bill for term limits] was tabled. There was never a vote ... you're not going to get on me that it's Democrats and Republicans against each other ... it's not something that we have to do," Bevins said.
An attendee asked about the money being spent per student on education in the county.
Bevins said she did not know, but said shrinking funding was an ongoing issue. She said she was working for air conditioning in schools.
"We have our challenges ... we have old schools," Bevins said.
An attendee asked if Bevins thought the County Council should have more control over county education.
"David and I both supported a hybrid school board (with both elected and appointed members) ... a lot of people I talked to said they wanted a person they voted for on the board," she said.
An attendee asked about budget constraints.
"I don't know how we're going to manage ... we don't want to raise taxes," she said.
Councilman David Marks said Cathy Bevins was a "pleasure to work with."
"She is a good team member," Marks said. "Not very often is it about partisanship."
Marks passed out a flier of recent legislative developments in the Perry Hall area.
He honored Dennis Hoover, a 10-year member of the county planning board who was chosen by Marks as Fifth District Citizen of the Year.
Marks said he is working to maintain a bipartisan administration.
He thanked County Executive Kevin Kamenetz for not raising taxes.
Marks said the County Council has managed money well. "We're always looking for things to cut that are wasteful," he said.
"Term limits—I'm not going to criticize Councilwoman Bevins on this, athough we disagree ... with term limits you have automatic turnover and fresh ideas ... the bill did not make it out of the council but I am hopeful that it started a debate about this," he said.
Marks said he helped pass legislation that requires developers to hold public meetings in the areas impacted by development, rather than in Towson.
Many of his recent proposed and approved legislative regulations are related to development and increasing online transparency.
Marks said zoning is the most important job of a councilmember. Marks has proposed the downzoning of hundreds of acres in Perry Hall.
"I cannot stop all development in Perry Hall. Some things I read on Patch, people don't want another house built in Perry Hall. Frankly, we have private property rights and we need some level of development to expand our tax base and economic growth," Marks said.
Marks pointed out several of the areas of Perry Hall he is proposing for downzoning on a large map.
Marks said progress is occurring at Perry Hall Square Shopping Center.
Marks said he has fought against widening Chapel Road and Forge Road, but is working toward resurfacing and other improvements along the roads. Joppa Road traffic is also an ongoing issue.
He said the planned Perry Hall dog park was approved and it will not require excess amounts of taxpayer money. It will be funded almost entirely by donation.
Marks updated attendees on the expansion of Indian Rock Park and the extension of a green area and trail system between Perry Hall and White Marsh.
An attendee asked about the potential for a new White Marsh high school.
Marks said it was a mistake by the county not to secure land for a new high school in the White Marsh area during more prosperous times, but he said school overcrowding is an even worse issue elsewhere in Towson.
An attendee asked about the county budget.
Marks said he has not seen the budget but that Kamenetz has made major budget cuts.
An attendee asked about education spending and the influence, or lack of influence, by the council on education in the county.
Marks said the council should have more influence, and reaffirmed his support for a hybrid school board.
An attendee criticized the Perry Hall/White Marsh Town Fair's new location in Middle River.
Marks said he would not "bash" volunteers, but he would have preferred the fair being in Perry Hall.
An attendee asked about teacher's pensions being pushed to county government.
Marks said the County Council has not been briefed extensively on the pension plan.
An attendee asked about rules related to the dog park, and if there will be any rules.
Members of the dog park planning board said it is still in the planning stages and they are working on bylaws and creating a non-profit organization.
"You need to work with the administration to get things done. I cannot get a road resurfaced or a park built by myself," Marks said.
Marks spoke about his recent legislation to allow for an "open space" zoning designation, where nothing can ever be built.
Marks praised the dog park.
An attendee said it needs dog commandments: No barking, no biting, no pooping and no fornicating. Attendees laughed.
An attendee asked about security in the Indian Rock trails. Marks said he would look into fences.
An attendee asked if a graded strip could be added to the double yellow line along Belair Road in north Perry Hall, "just to try to stop someone from crossing it ... just that simple yellow line." This is a matter for the State Highway Administration, Marks said, although he would contact the state about it.
An attendee talked about a banking issue related to state and national government and stated how he believes there is wasteful spending.
Marks said, "We need to have a serious conversation about how to spend a surplus so when we have the money, it won't just be thrown away."
Robinson closed the meeting and reminded attendees of upcoming events.
Have a question for Perry Hall's county councilmembers? You're welcome to ask them whatever you'd like at this month's .
At 7:30 p.m. on March 8 at the , (representing the majority of Perry Hall) and (representing part of Perry Hall and most of White Marsh), plan to appear at the PHIA's March meeting.
Marks and Bevins are expected to share information about Baltimore County government and take questions from the audience, PHIA president Dennis M. Robinson, Jr. announced.
What would you like to ask Perry Hall's councilmembers? Tell us in the comments.