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Councilman Marks seeks to prohibit panhandle lots in Honeygo Overlay District

District 5 Councilman David Marks

Baltimore County District 5 Councilperson David Marks looks to pass a bill to prohibit panhandle lots in White Marsh’s Honeygo Overlay District.

According to the county council, Bill 11-23 modifies two facets of the district regulations for the Honeygo Overlay District.

First, the bill alters an open space standard through the payment of a fee.

Basically speaking, the bill would require housing developments in the Honeygo area to provide an open space for residents.

Secondly, the bill would forbid panhandle lots in the entire Honeygo Overlay District.

“[The Honeygo Overlay District] is a special development district created 1994 that has heightened architectural buildings,” Marks said. “Panhandle lots have been illegal throughout much of the Honeygo area since that time.”

Under current law, panhandle lots are only allowed in defined areas of the Honeygo Overlay District. The final reading and vote on Bill 11-23 will take place at the Legislative Session on Monday, March 20, at 6 p.m. If passed, Bill 11-23 will take effect 14 days from the date of its enactment.

The District 5 councilperson said he wants to extend the ban throughout the entire area that encompasses the Honeygo Overlay District.

According to the county’s zoning regulation, a panhandle lot is situated where its only access to a local street is a narrow driveway that may contain water and sewer lines and other utilities.

Essentially, a panhandle lot is characterized by a long strip of driveway that leads to the rest of the property where the buildings are usually situated.

“Panhandle lots are where developers basically try to cram homes into neighborhoods by having long driveways off roads,” Marks said. “They are banned throughout most of Honeygo.”

Throughout the last three years, Marks has passed significant legislation in regards to Honeygo and the Honeygo Overlay District.

Back in 2020, Marks had passed an act that saw panhandle lots not permitted in the Honeygo area. The following year, he passed another bill that authorized certain developments adjacent to the Honeygo Overlay District to be developed with residential uses.

“As Honeygo developed, construction could not occur until a park was built or a school opened,” Marks said. “This is kind of a logical extension of that.”

In his 12 years within the county council, Marks has facilitated the construction of 11 new parks in his districts, six of which are in Perry Hall and White Marsh.

Those parks includeAngel Park, Soukup Arena, the Perry Paw Dog Park, Gough Park, as well as and two future sites at Gerst Road and near Perry Hall Boulevard.

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State Report Card ratings released for local schools

Last week, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) released its report cards for public schools across the state, where local schools scored less stars than in previous years according to the data.

This year marked the first time where school report cards were updated since the 2018-19 academic year. State schools received star ratings that range from as low as one star to the highest ranking of five stars.

These stars are based on four indicators at elementary and middle school levels that include academic achievement and progress, English language proficiency, school quality and student success.

“While the Maryland School Report Card provides valuable insight about school performance, it provides a very limited snapshot of the progress of our more than 111,00 students and the work our schools are doing to rebound from the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” BCPS Superintendent Darryl L. Williams said in a statement.

Only one school in the Essex area earned a one-star rating which was Deep Creek Middle School. Schools receive one star when has less than 30 percent of total possible points. However, possible points vary by school and year, and school ratings are based on the total earned points percent.

Deep Creek Middle School had only earned 28.5 out the possible 96.5 points that led the school to only receive 29.5 percent of total possible points, thereby receiving one star from the state report card. Less than five percent of the school’s student body tested proficient in math, with more than 52 percent of them considered “chronically absent” in 2022.

Four schools in Essex that received a two-star rating include Chesapeake High School, Deep Creek Elementary, Sussex Elementary and Stemmers Run Middle. A school receives two stars when it has at least 30 percent total possible points but less than 45 percent.

Chesapeake High School dropped from its previous ranking in the 2018-19 academic year that saw the school fall from four stars to two stars. More than half of the school’s students were found to be chronically absent in 2022.

Other schools like Deep Creek Middle and Sussex Elementary had also dropped from three stars in 2018 to their current two-star ratings.

Middle River schools like Hawthorne Elementary and Middle River Middle also earned a two-star rating in the latest report card. Both schools had previously earned the same rating four years prior in 2018.

Majority of Essex schools had received three stars in the latest state report card that includes Essex Elementary, Kenwood High, Mars Estates Elementary, Sandalwood Elementary and Middlesex Elementary.

All schools previously mentioned have maintained a three-star rating throughout a three-year span since 2019.

Schools are given three stars when they have met between 45 percent to less than 60 percent of total possible points.

Likewise, majority of Middle River schools such as Chase Elementary, Martin Boulevard Elementary, Victory Villa Elementary and Seneca Elementary received three-star ratings.

Additionally, schools around White Marsh posted three-star ratings that include Vincent Farm Elementary, Perry Hall High and Perry Hall Middle.

“I want you to know there are great things happening in our school system,” Williams said.

“As I continue to visit schools across the county and speak with our teachers, administrators, staff and students, I have seen high levels of student engagement, rigorous teaching and learning, growth in our students and staff and deep community and partnership building.”

Currently, only two Essex schools earned a four star rating and a five rating. Middleborough Elementary got four stars in the latest state report card and Eastern Technical High School received a five-star rating.

In Middle River, only Orems Elementary School received a four-star rating with no schools earning anything higher. Meanwhile, three schools around White Marsh earned a four-star rating such as Perry Hall Elementary, Joppaview Elementary and Gunpowder Elementary as Chapel Hill Elementary and Honeygo Elementary received a five-star rating.

“The data collected from the 2022 Report Card is the starting point for us to shape local education agency policy and work toward implementing evidence-based, best-in-class work to drive student outcomes,” State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury said.

The Charles P. Crane Generating Station, a prominent landmark in eastern Baltimore County for nearly 50 years, was demolished about seven months ago. Developers and local residents have contrasting vision for the property’s future.

Kenwood wrestler Kelly Bailey.