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County to Redraw District Lines, Seeks Public Input

Tuesday’s meeting lacked attendance and resident comments, but commissioners say they need the public to move forward regardless.

In the first stage of county plans for redrawing district lines, the Prince George’s County Redistricting Commission met with residents on Tuesday night to gain public input to make improvements to their drafted maps.

“Our interest is making certain that citizens of [Prince George's] County have some input in this process. Nothing else would make it better,” Sharon Taylor, the commission chair, said. “In what we decide with for this input, we are all going to have to live with for the next 10 years.”

Tuesday night’s public hearing in Riverdale, however, failed to garner the interest of the community as only 13 sat in attendance, offering no comments after the presentation. This follows their April 9 hearing, where the commission faced a crowd of 49 residents representing areas of Camp Spring, who were vocal about their desire to keep their community unified.

“They felt that their community was pretty divided, and they wanted to make their voices be heard, to be unified under one councilman's district,” Commissioner Tamara Brown said, urging the current audience to offer comments and ask questions.

The meeting was subsequently cut short to 30 minutes, followed by a brief meet and greet with commissioners who further explained the general idea of the redistricting process.

The process to redraw legislative district lines have been reestablished every 10 years, requiring the commission to thoroughly prepare and propose plans to the council.

The redistricting law requires the new districts to be as equal in population as possible, with a maximum deviation of five percent from the average population. The commission will take this requirement a step further by implementing new policies, including using existing council districts as starting points for redrawing the lines, and not considering incumbency in the process. The commission will also avoid splitting census-designated places.

One of the largest increases seen over the last 10 years has been in District 3, the College Park area, ever since the boom of student housing along Route 1 and Adelphi Road. The area is split into two county council districts, and commissioners are mindful not to split it any further. Districts 6 and 9 have also grown by more than 10,000 people.

The proposed drafts will level out these districts, bringing the individual populations to a target of 96,125 residents each. Despite the redrawing, there will still remain some unincorporated areas in each district.

“It may not help it, but it definitely won’t hurt,” Brown said.

When the new districts are outlined, it could provoke communities to motion for an organized council. But the new district drawings have no direct effect on creating an incorporated environment.

In terms of the new district lines, the current maps available for the public to view are merely examples and ideas. Each public hearing will bring the team closer to drawing a map that serves as a more concrete outline. They urge the public to leave comments on their website, and to attend hearings to gather more information.

“Maybe what we present will pique [residents’] interests and concerns,” Taylor said, in regards to Tuesday’s lack of attendance. “They’ll take the fliers back to their community and make sure that community is represented.”

The June 7 meeting was the first of five this summer. The next meeting will be in Landover on June 16, and the final plan for redrawing is due on Sept. 1.

Tom Kennedy June 08, 2011 at 07:49 PM
UNFORTUNATELY, THE PROCESS FOR REDISTRICTING CHANGE THIS YEAR AND ONLY DEMOCRATS WERE APPOINTED TO SERVE AS COMMISSIONERS. OF COURSE, THEY WILL DRAW DISTRICT LINES AS THEY ARE TOLD TO DO SO BY DEMOCRATIC PARTY BOSSES. THERE WILL BE NO REAL OPPOSITION, AND ANY REFERENCE TO BIPARTISANSHIP (LET ALONE "REPUBLICAN") IN PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY WILL BE NOTHING MORE THAN A FOOTNOTE AND A MEMORY IN COMING YEARS.
Sharp Shooter June 09, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Most computers provide some sort of visual feedback when the Caps Lock key is active.
Tea L June 10, 2011 at 12:05 PM
This isn't the Fox channel, so stop screaming. No line, however contrived, could produce a Rebublican district in this County, don't you think? If there is no Republican presence, it is because the voters have rejected that possibility.
MAH 1464 August 03, 2011 at 03:30 PM
It would be nice if the Republicans of this state could or at least be heard once in a awhile. The democrats destroy every county, city, state the yrun but nobody cares. When Ehrlick left office there was over 2 billion dollars in surplus. O'Malley took over January 21st. That money was gone before Valentines day people. We are doomed as a country people take care of yourselfs, save money because it is all going to come crashing down sooner then later and make the depression look like a correction.
Tim August 04, 2011 at 04:07 AM
Both parties are the problem. Look at the mess that took place in Washington last week, and despite a dismal economy, unemployment and crime...the governor announces one his top priorities will be passing gay marriage. Don't get me wrong, if he wants to put gay marriage on his todo list, fine, but i do think there are 3 or 4 more pressing concerns at this point. This system is broken beyond repair, unfortunately until the majority of the middle class goes hungry nothing will change.

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