And Olson also won approval of a bill that would require the county to create a set of detailed guidelines for “green streets,” to improve storm water management, promote pedestrian and cyclist safety, and increase walk-ability of communities.
The council also approved a bill to increase fines for loitering after police issue a warning. The bill, introduced by council member Karen Toles (D-Suitland), would increase fines from the current $100 to as much as $1,000.
Council member Obie Patterson D-Fort Washington) asked whether the bill might lead to overzealous policing, but ultimately voted for the measure.
Harrison also expressed concern. “Not all children, just because they are standing in a group are out to commit crimes or out to harass people,” she said before voting for the bill.
The longest debate of the day was about feral cats that have been marked with an incision in the earlobe to show that they have been vaccinated and neutered. Animal rights activists have complained for several years that the county’s animal control facility was euthanizing feral cats, but the bill would instead require the agency to trap, examine and release the cats if they are found to possess the telltale ear marking.
“I had no idea when I entered the fray back in the spring that this legislation would be so emotional for people,” said Lehman, the bill’s chief sponsor. “The cats are not a threat to human health,” she said. The bill passed 7 to 1, with only council member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville) voting no. Council member Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville) was out of the room when the vote was taken.
The council, without fanfare, also approved funds to pay for an $8 million pay increase for county police that had been ordered in September by an arbitrator.
Tuesday’s actions came a few weeks after the council approved a bill that will require all county residences by July 2013 to have carbon monoxide detectors. Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said the fire department is continuing its practice of providing the detectors without cost to any resident who wants one.
The council also two weeks ago approved a ban, effective in January, on novelty cigarette lighters, which Bashoor said were especially dangerous because they ignite more quickly than other lighters. Efforts to get the state to ban them have been unsuccessful.
“So we are doing it ourselves,” Bashoor said.