Todd Huff, the discredited Baltimore County councilman for my district three, has discarded all pretence that he actually ever represented any constituents.
Defeated in the GOP primary, one-term Todd is now pushing a bill whose text he will not make public but which he says (Baltimore Sun, Oct 21 2014) "has been an important issue to me for the past four years."
And here, we thought the important issue for Todd was keeping hold of a county vehicle for his drunk driving escapades.
What is this "important issue" that lame-duck Todd is huffing about?
It's a bill which Todd Huff has now withdrawn but declared he will reintroduce, which would "by right" permit certain commercial activities on Baltimore County farmland.
By right? Oh yes, that means, without further approval under existing Baltimore County rules and regs.
Wanna host a motorcycle rally out in a field someplace? No prob. Just do it. Never mind traffic or noise or your neighbor's privacy or security or any other public safety issues. Just do it!!
Thanks, Todd, Been good to know you. Not.
Let's be sure the rest of the County Council knows the difference between farming operations and "celebratory events" that would undermine forty years of smart growth in Baltimore County.
To help along the campaign to retire this secret proposal along with its sponsor, here is a letter reprinted from the Oct 21 2014 Baltimore Sun, which ought to be circulated to every member of the Baltimore Council:
Farm bill is bad for Baltimore County
Your recent article on the Baltimore County agricultural tourism bill unfairly describes battle lines being drawn between farmers on one side and local land preservationists on the other (“County bill sparks debate over tourism on farms,” Oct. 14). This is an inaccurate oversimplification.
Farmers are the leading land preservationists representing the majority of landowners by far who have placed their property in permanent preservation. Everyone in Baltimore County’s rural 3rd District, farmers and community groups alike, wants to see farming continue to be economically viable. The community as a whole is open to the idea of agricultural tourism, and they said as much at the County Council work session. It is the wording and construction of this particular piece of legislation that has everyone rightly alarmed.
Councilman Todd Huff, who remains in office for only six more weeks, has had this bill prepared behind closed doors and is pulling out all stops to rush it through. As written, the bill essentially converts all of the resource conservation zones into business zones. I agree with the assessment of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz that the bill conflicts with county efforts to protect rural land from commercial development. As such, it is bad public policy, not just for Baltimore County but also for everyone in the Baltimore region who benefits from the cleaner air and water made possible by the presently protected resource zones.
Both candidates who would replace Mr. Huff after his term expires say they are ready to take up the issue as soon as the new council is seated. Wth a willing future councilman and a supportive community, this fatally flawed bill should be resoundingly voted down.
Sharon D. Bailey
The writer is president of the Prettyboy Watershed Alliance.
Baltimore Sun October 21, 2014 article (p. 2):
"Baltimore County buys rural acres from megachurch" which contained this snippet:
[. . .] "In other business, the council delayed action on a bill that would have made it easier for farmers to engage in moneymaking activities such as hayrides and corn mazes.
Councilman Todd Huff, a Lutherville Republican who grew up on a farm in Sparks, withdrew his agritourism bill and introduced a new version in a procedural move to keep the legislation alive as the council nears the end of its four-year term.
The bill had been scheduled for a vote Monday and faced possible defeat.
Huff’s bill would have allowed farm owners to operate the extra farm-related activities “by right,” without requiring approval from the county. It would also have allowed farmers to apply to host up to a dozen “celebratory events,” such as weddings, per year.
Farmers supported the bill, but it came under heavy criticism from citizens planning groups, which said activities would draw traffic and noise to rural communities. Kamenetz had threatened to veto the bill.
Huff said the new version would eliminate the provision for celebratory events, but a draft was not available at Monday’s council meeting. It could be voted on at the council’s Nov. 17 meeting.
Huff, who was defeated in the Republican primary, said he hopes he can get the bill passed before he leaves office. “This has been an important issue to me for the past four years,” he said.