nice with each other, guys
Members of County Council were gently admonished to make an
effort to get along.
Stopping short of making it a rebuke, president Tom Kovach
referred generally to recent exchanges during plenary and
committee meetings as he distributed copies of a section from
the book of Council rules at an executive committee meeting.
That, it was said, was done to promote civility -- a
virtue said by some to be fraying in government bodies up to and
including the Congress of the United States.
The operative paragraph: "Council members shall conduct
themselves in a professional manner at all times and avoid
characterizing another member's personal interests or motives.
Council members shall refrain from speaking disrespectfully of
the presiding officer or other members, engaging in personal
attacks and from using profane or vulgar language."
"We all get heated. We all get emotional. I think it is why we
got elected -- we get passionate about issues," Kovach said.
There was no further discussion on that point but another rule
came up for extended discussion at the meeting when members were
asked to approve a rule to govern the procedure for their
recently reactivated grants-for-worthy-causes practice. Each of
the 13 members will be authorized to propose grants up to a
total of $75,000 this fiscal year, the money to be drawn from
half of Council's contingency fund.
Policy director Jim Boyle said the rules he presented contained
no substantive change from ones that were used before the
program was suspended two years ago. But Councilman Penrose
Hollins objected to a provision requiring grant applicants to
possess Internal Revenue certification as a non-profit entity.
Obtaining such a certification, he said, is prohibitively
cumbersome for the small local organizations which make up the
majority of applicants for Council grants.
While voting orally to eliminate that requirement, the rule was
amended to specify that Council had the right to waive other
documentation requirements on a case-by-case basis.
Nature also came in for consideration in a couple of matters
before Council on Jan. 10.
The county's property maintenance code was revised to restrict
use of running bamboo --- considered an aggressively invasive
plant. The revision requires that the plant be in a container or
surrounded by a barrier which prevents its spread and that no
part of it, including stems and roots, extend closer than 10
feet from any property line.
Councilman John Cartier introduced a proposed ordinance, to be
acted upon on Jan. 24 exempting Arden, Ardentown and Ardencoft
from the code prohibition defining trees and tree branches as
"rubbish." That also would apply to other municipalities which,
like the Ardens, have adopted a 'forest stewardship' policy.
Such policies, according to the preamble of the proposed
ordinance "encourages fallen trees, tree limbs and fallen tree
branches to be left to naturally return to organic matter,
thereby enriching the soil." State parks, among other venues,
have been following that practice for several years.
It could not immediately be determined approximately how long it
takes for the natural return to be accomplished.