The Anne Arundel County Council on Monday rejected a bill that would have divided Odenton into two districts, but the overall issue of redistricting remained unresolved.
The council was unable to muster the five votes needed to pass separate bills designed to address a population imbalance between District 1 and District 4. The failure to pass any bill came after county attorney David A. Plymyer warned that the county would be in violation of the state constitution if it did not approve some kind of redistricting plan.
One plan, offered by council chairman Jerry Walker (R-District 7) would have merged Crofton, Gambrills and the east half of Odenton into District 4. The western portion of Odenton would have been moved to District 1 along with Severn, Fort Meade and Laurel.
Walker's plan was met with opposition from local business leaders, who said Odenton needed its own single council member in order to move along plans for the Odenton Town Center.
"Odenton has struggled to find its political feet," said Claire Louder, President and CEO of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, in testimony before the council. "We have great concerns over what would happen if we were split in half."
Jay Winer, president of developer AJ Properties in Odenton, expressed similar concerns in a letter to the council Monday.
"Odenton already has its challenges implementing a plan for the county’s largest town center without being divided to compete against itself with more than the representatives it already has," Winer wrote. "On the council, there must absolutely be one voice and not two representing the needs of the community. The bill as proposed makes it seem that once again, the needs of virtually every other part of the county are being addressed, except those of Odenton."
A competing redistricting plan presented by council member Chris Trumbauer (D-District 6) would have shifted one precinct from District 4 to District 1. Dubbed "the simple plan," it fell short of passage on a 4-3 vote, with Trumbauer joined by Dick Ladd (R-District 5), Peter Smith (D-District 1), and Jamie Benoit (D-District 4.)
The council's failure to pass any redistricting plan creates uncertainty as candidates for county council prepare to file paperwork. Those interested in vying for council seats in 2014 may file as soon as April 9.
"The question is, what kind of chaos will this bring?" Plymyer asked.