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Hagerstown briefs

October 07, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Council tentatively supports placement of trash bin in right of way



HAGERSTOWN -- The owner of 20 W. Washington St. wants to put an outdoor trash bin in a right of way behind the building, according to a city memo.

The placement of the bin would force traffic to leave the McCardell Alley right of way and go onto a nearby private property.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said vehicles tend to leave the right of way anyway to get a clearer view of approaching traffic.

He said the nearby owner would rather have the traffic than the trash bin on the property.

Council members tentatively agreed to support an agreement for the placement of the trash bin.

City to accept grant for new historical plaques



HAGERSTOWN -- The city plans to accept a $5,000 Maryland Heritage Area Authority grant to help pay for new historical plaques.

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The city would match the grant with $4,000 from its general fund, according to a memo by Planning Director Kathleen Maher.

In the first round of its Interpretive Plaques Program, the city installed 12 plaques about Civil War history downtown.

The 15 plaques for round two are in production, the memo says. They are about the Civil War and other history.

The 15 plaques in the third round -- for which the city will get the new grant -- are about various aspects of history.

Council members tentatively agreed to support the grant and the matching money, which is budgeted.

Council questioned for going into executive session to discuss alley names



HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council talked in executive session Tuesday about possible new names for Cramer Alley.

A section of the alley leading to the downtown Arts & Entertainment parking deck has been widened. City officials have said the road could be named in honor of someone and asked for public suggestions that didn't use "alley."

Under Maryland's Open Meetings Act, public bodies may -- but are not required to -- meet privately to discuss items in certain categories.

An executive session agenda Tuesday listed two exemptions for the Cramer Alley discussion.

One was "to protect the privacy or reputation of individuals with respect to a matter that is not related to public business."

On Wednesday, Maryland Assistant Attorney General William Varga questioned the city's application of that section of the law.

"When you name a street, that's public business, so I don't think that provision is appropriate," he said.

He said an example of an appropriate use might be an elected official wanting to privately discuss a health problem with other elected officials.

Trying "to protect the privacy or reputation" of someone whose name might be used for a road name is "kind of a stretch," Varga said.

The other exemption the council gave in writing for the private discussion was "administrative function," in which a public body administers an existing law or policy.

Varga said that exemption might fit in this case, as long as a specific policy or law directs the council to choose street names.

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