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Nearly a year after the Harford County Council demanded that the public school system build a new elementary school off Red Pump Road north of Bel Air, the controversy continues to smolder.

At its legislative session March 16, the council approved a resolution to declare surplus several county-owned properties at another potential school site of Schucks Road in the Campus Hills area. Those properties were supposed to be used for the elementary school favored at that location by school officials, including the late Superintendent Jacqueline Haas, for whom that school would have been named. The council, however, opposed a school at that location and favored the Red Pump site instead and ultimately got its way, after threatening to withhold funding unless its wishes were met.

Council members argued at the time that the Schucks Road site was outside the county's designated growth area, known as the development envelope, and building a school there would exacerbate the already bad traffic congestion in the Campus Hills area.

The surplus property declarations approved last week to transfer ownership of the Schucks Road properties from the county to the school system were part of a compromise reached in the wake of the Red Pump school deal. But if the transfer seemed to be innocuous on its face, that wasn't necessarily the feeling of some council members.

Several of them made it clear that transfer of the properties does not constitute an endorsement for the proposed Campus Hills school at the Schucks Road site.

"This is one of the agreements that came to us with the county executive and the school board," Council President Billy Boniface said. "If they moved forward with Red Pump as planned within the development envelope, we would agree to surplus these properties to the board of education. This in no way endorses putting a school there in the future."

Boniface said the state needs to deal with some major road issues on Route 22 before the council would approve Campus Hills Elementary School.

Another resolution was passed at the March 16 council session to surplus a parcel on Chapel Road near Havre de Grace to Leslie Osborne, the abutting property owner, for $9,500.

Osborne had put a pool on his property, but a portion of the improvement encroached on county property.

Abolishing agency

An executive order abolishing the county Office of Governmental and Community Relations was also introduced at the March 16 council meeting.

County Executive David Craig said last month he planned to abolish the agency and merge its operations under his chief of staff, Aaron Tomarchio.

Craig made that decision after Roxanne Lynch, who had been serving as director of governmental and community relations, resigned to take a position in the local offices of a major defense contractor.

Under the county charter, an executive order must be submitted to the county council to abolish a county agency or department, according to Deputy County Attorney Nancy Giorno.

The order will sit for 60 days and become automatically abolished, unless the council votes to reject the order.

Boniface presented a proclamation to Bob Tibbs, of the Harford County Farm Bureau, declaring March 14-20 Agriculture Week.

The council also unanimously appointed Lou Ann Conway, of Bel Air, to the People's Counsel Advisory Board. Charles F. Ramsay Jr., of Churchville, was unanimously appointed to chair of the board.

The council unanimously denied an extension for a transcript of a zoning appeal case concerning Riverside Community Church, located in the 2600 block of Carsins Run Road in Aberdeen.

The applicant requested a variance to locate a sign within the required 20-foot front yard setback in the agricultural district.

The transcript had to be filed within 90 days of the case before the zoning examiner. The applicant requested an extension to file the transcript, but it was denied.

The council, acting as the board of appeals, denied the variance as well.

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