Volume 13, Issue 1 ~ January 6 - 12, 2005
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Dock of the Bay

photo by Thomas Long
Thousands of Bills Await 419th Session of the General Assembly
In Annapolis, the State House is about to open its 419th session. The session begins Jan. 12 and adjourns April 11.

Behind the General Assembly' s 47 senators and 141 delegates elected from 47 districts are 551 staff, including the 370-person Department of Legislative Services, which is part librarian, part researcher and part bill drafter; the 178 legislative assistants, who work both for individual members and for the delegation; and members' own staffers.

New to the job this session are three delegates and one senator. In Calvert County, Del. Sue Kullen replaces George Owings, who left the job to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other newcomers are Sen. Allan Kittleman in Carroll and Howard counties; Del. Murray Levy in Charles County; and Del. Tanya Shewell in Carroll County.

Balancing inexperience with longevity are Sen. Norman Stone and Del. Pauline Menes. Both first elected in 1966, the two are returning to the General Assembly for their 38th year.

These and the other 182 representatives have full plates, debating and negotiating thousands of topics and bills. About 2,300 bills are introduced in each session.

This session, major issues will be slot machines, medical malpractice, introducing non-native oysters to the Bay and a variety of funding mechanisms and issues, including the state budget.

Other issues include higher education and funding for public school construction, reform of land sales, immigration issues and same-sex marriage as a constitutional amendment.

Environmental issues include earth, sea and sky.

" Restoring funding for land conservation and protecting Maryland' s open spaces will come up," said Susan Brown, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. " Gov. Robert Ehrlich has raided money for this during the past two years, so the Assembly will look at what kind of public input we' re having when we' re selling state-owned lands."

Land is in the spotlight, but air will also get its share of attention.

" There' s also going to be a Four Pollutant bill to reduce harmful emissions from power plants' smokestacks," Brown adds. This bill would require smokestacks to clean up the mercury, carbon dioxide, sulfur compounds and nitrogen compounds that they emit.

The pattern of the Assembly of 2005 may well have been set in the last days of 2004, when, in an extraordinary special session, governor and legislators kept each other in check.

- Carrie Steele

photo by Carrie Steele
Calvert' s New Delegate Takes Her Desk
17-Hour Special Session Gives Kullen a Taste of What' s to Come

On the House floor, Dec. 28 was an early first day of school for freshman Sue Kullen, who took her seat as a Calvert County delegate in the special legislative session on malpractice insurance reform.

" You can read about the legislative process in books," Kullen said. " But you have to live through it to see what it is all about."

The session - which lasted 17 hours - gave Kullen a glance into what' s in store as the General Assembly convenes for its regular term. " I loved seeing the process," Kullen said. " I' m a lot smarter now."

Helping her learn the ropes are senior statespeople, from Del. Pauline Menes of Montgomery County, the longest serving woman in the House, to seatmate John Bohanan of St. Mary' s County, who helped Kullen push the right button to answer the roll call her first day.

No formal inauguration parties or dinners are planned for Kullen. " It' s time to get to work; the pomp and circumstance was in the summer for me," she said. After six months of preparation, she is looking forward to getting down to business.

" My focus for Calvert County will be education and the environment," Kullen said. Since her selection by the Calvert County Democratic Party and appointment by the governor, the new delegate has been studying the issues and meeting the players " We don' t want to duplicate efforts but see where we can make an impact," Kullen said. " First you need to see what you are looking at and then decide where you can place your best efforts."

One of Kullen' s promises is " keeping Calvert country," as she also plans to help preserve farms and green space. She supports the local farmers and wants low-impact growth in recreation and tourism.

Advocating for the disabled will also continue to be a focus, she said. Before joining the legislature, Kullen prepared and gave testimony on bills regarding disability and education.

With the special legislative session concluding Jan. 11 and the regular session beginning the next day, Kullen will be full time in her new classroom.

- Carol Swanson

photo by Carrie Steele
Historic Annapolis Foundation' s new history center at City Dock is set to open in the spring of 2006.

Time Travel Eased in Capital City
21st Century History Museum Underway in Annapolis

In historic Annapolis, you' ll soon be able to time travel with ease. Near City Dock, Historic Annapolis Foundation is designing a new history center that will be Annapolis' s history central come the spring of 2006.

The center will reshape a 1790s building that used to house a first floor store and second floor residence. Renovation plans call for keeping all the building' s historic materials, including the walls. When the transformation is complete, it will become a jumping-off point into history. You' ll find out about interesting places to see, whether you' re interested in 17th century tobacco ports or colonial homes like the William Paca House.

" This is a place to begin your discovery," said Greg Stiverson, Annapolis Historic Foundation' s president.

Historic will meet high-tech in the new center, reconstructed by North Point Builders of Baltimore, with a modern mood, including digital imaging.

" We want this to appeal to kids and adults; to engage people' s attention immediately," Stiverson said. You can breeze through the first of the three floors to find fast information on what historic sites in the region' s four centuries of European settlement will interest you.

" The higher you go up, the more history content you' ll find in the exhibits," Stiverson explained. " Hard-core history nuts will want to trudge up to the top floor."

A mid-December ground-breaking set renovation of the 18th century building in motion. But instead of breaking the ground, construction crews' first steps were to fill in archeology pits. Early work included adding an elevator and taking down a shed before the space could be reconfigured for exhibits.

What to call such a place is the new year' s question. " No one has come up with the right name yet," Stiverson said. The foundation seeks a name that reflects all the center has to offer and resonates with Chesapeake residents and visitors. They are hoping the right name will emerge from focus groups - or from your bright ideas.

- Carrie Steele

photo by Carol Swanson
Southwinds, a four-story condominium in North Beach, is one of several developments changing the face of the Twin Beaches.
Up, Up and Away
Skylines and Prices Rising in Twin Beaches

In both North Beach and Chesapeake Beach, the new year sees a coming of age with a changing skyline and high-rise condominiums with Washington price tags.

In Chesapeake Beach, development under Mayor Gerald Donovan continues to renew the grandeur of the town' s earlier days.

His new Chesapeake Bay Hotel, completed last April, rivals the old resorts with new amenities, including a full-service spa. The hotel' s New Year' s Eve $450 package - a water-view room, dinner, show and party topped off with chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne toast - sold out.

Chesapeake Beach' s Horizon on the Bay continued the building boom with its eight-story condominium right on the beach. With prices ranging from $389,000 for a one-bedroom to $699,000 for a three-bedroom, all 72 units were sold out before completion; none is yet ready for occupancy.

Another condo will rise on the site of Donovan' s historic family restaurant Stinnett' s, closed after Hurricane Isabelle. The water-view property was recently sold to Marrick Properties, Donovan said. Plans call for two buildings of 32 units each.

Donovan is not a partner in the development. " I' m just a restaurateur," said Donovan, who owns three area restaurants.

In North Beach, Hurricane Isabelle swept away many beach bungalows, but now they are rebuilding with a fury on an even more grand scale. Along with rising shoreline residential properties, new high-rise condominiums are in various stages of development.

Southwinds, a four-story condominium and the work of Patuxent Development, competing to be the town' s tallest building, is nearly finished on Bay Avenue. Adjacent, an unnamed grand block has just passed a preliminary plan review. This one, the latest project by Ron Russo' s RAR Development - which built the town' s current tallest building, Bay Walk - anticipates condominiums plus a 72-room inn, spa and shops to rival Donovan' s Chesapeake Beach Hotel.

On a smaller scale, North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer expects the town council to pass new zoning laws this month to shape the new face of the town. Except at the water, residences will top out at 40 feet. But waterfront properties will have special property-by-property review. Because the waterfront is so valuable, " we don' t want to restrict potential," Frazer said. " The same restrictions that apply throughout the town should not apply in waterfront zones."

Both beaches are cashing in on their million-dollar vistas by supplying the area with top-dollar, high-rise, Bay-view development for citizens and visitors. For better or for worse, if it' s built, they will come.

- Carol Swanson

The 33-acre Ogleton woods of Annapolis Roads and the community' s golf course stand out against the sprawl of development.
Buddy, Can You Spare $1.3 Million?
Neighbors Gather Strength, Money to Buy Land Eyed by Developers

In Annapolis Roads, an open space caught between a developer and a dedicated community still awaits a green spring - or construction. In November, Bay Weekly [Dock of the Bay, Vol. XII, No. 48] brought you the story of Annapolis Roads' struggle to keep a developer from buying the 33-acre Ogleton woods and to prevent St. Mary' s Church from building ballfields on the community golf course.

Today, hundreds of thousands of dollars stronger, the community is still embattled.

" The community has a terrifically positive attitude; there' s also a bonding together that' s very healthy," said community newsletter co-editor Valerie Lester.

Optimism has kept Annapolis Roads in the campaign mode. The community has raised more than $700,000 toward its goal of $2 million.

" That amount represents only 20 percent of the Annapolis Roads community," said Dave Buemi of the property owners association. The association plans to appeal to the other 80 percent in coming months. " This money comes from a solidly middle-class community," he added. " People are digging down deep to show that we can buy this property."

Joining the effort are other communities on the Annapolis Neck peninsula.

" The Annapolis Neck Federation has spoken to us and given us support," Buemi said. " They have similar concerns."

Fundraising continues at house parties across Annapolis Neck and city zip codes. Armed with pledge forms and information on how to make tax deductible donations, neighbors are gearing up to raise the $1.3 million to buy the land.

" We believe that we can easily reach our goal," Buemi said, by combined donations, a bank loan, a loan from the Maryland Environmental Trust and a loan from the Maryland Department of the Environment Water Quality Fund.

- Carrie Steele

Ask the Plant ProfessorSpring Outdoors; Fall In

Q I am trying to winter-over my hibiscus indoors. How can I maximize growth?

A The hibiscus will probably lose many or all of its leaves until it readapts to the indoor conditions. Don't despair. Water moderately when the top inch of soil has dried; don't fertilize until next spring. It will like bright light with some direct sunlight daily. Hibiscus can continue to flower and flourish indoors if regular watering and feeding continues, but many people prefer to let their plants rest during winter months.

Q My bulbs are coming up already! What should I do?

A Our autumn weather tricked bulbs into thinking it is already spring. Their requirements for hours of cold were fulfilled, and then it got warm. A hard freeze will stop foliage growth and won' t hurt the foliage.There may be some foliage browning or yellowing, but flowers should arrive on schedule in spring - as long as flower stalks have not already emerged.

Foiling Foraging Fiends

Do deer like lilac bushes?

A Lilacs are not on the top of their preferred menu, but the bottom line is deer will eat just about any plant if they are hungry enough. Lilac and many other plants will suffer browse damage when young but are ignored when they reach some size. Crape myrtle and boxwoods are two safe alternatives. For lists of plants arranged by degree of resistance, see our publication FS655, Resistance of Woody Ornamentals to Deer Damage.

Q I' ve tried everything to keep raccoons from destroying my bird feeders, short of trapping and destroying them. Any last-ditch suggestions? I' d like to live and let live with nature if at all possible.

A Raccoons are nocturnal. Simply take in the bird feeders at night when the birds will not be feeding anyway. 

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

Way Downstream

On the Eastern Shore, the documentary We Are All Smith Islanders [Bay Weekly Vol. XII, No. 38] has been airing on public access television. The film, produced by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, describes how global warming already is affecting watermen and goes on to describe how Bay agriculture, wildlife and tourism might change in the future ...

In Virginia, a seal named Kitty slipped into the chilly waters of Chesapeake Bay last week, a reason for animal-lovers to celebrate the new year. After being found badly ailing in November with pneumonia and an injured shoulder, the 70-pound Kitty was the first harbor seal to be nursed back to health by the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Program, part of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, the Virginian-Pilot reports ...

In Mexico, call it the guacamole bus. The Sustainable Solutions Caravan made it from San Francisco to Mexico City last week in a bus powered by avacado oil. The aim: proving to Latin Americans that vehicles that run on used vegetable oils and waste products are far cleaner than gasoline-powered motors ...

Our Creature Feature is a mystery from Sri Lanka: Why did the worst tsunami in decades kill so many people but so few animals? Even though the giant wave crashed into Yala National Park, none of the hundreds of elephants, leopards or other creatures were reported harmed - not even a rabbit.

An official in the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department thinks he knows why: They knew what was happening and sought shelter. " I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense," the official, H.D. Ratnayake, told Reuters news service.

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