Vote due on historic Ellicott City flood control plan

Howard County's Council will vote on a plan that would include tearing down 10 buildings on Main Street to try to minimize future flood damage. (AP Photo/David McFadden, file)

WASHINGTON — After two devastating floods in two years, a Monday vote could allocate $17 million toward preventing future tragedies in historic Ellicott City, Maryland.

The Howard County Council is scheduled to vote on a bill Monday night — part of a $50 million, five-year-plan that includes purchasing and razing 19 buildings, in hopes of taming flood waters that have increased after recent storm events.

The controversial plan is advocated by County Executive Allan Kittleman and Ellicott City’s representative on the council, Jon Weinstein.

Under the plan the county would buy 19 buildings — 10 in the most flood-prone area, along Main Street. The buildings would be demolished, and replaced by open spaces, and a wider, deeper channel that carries ran waters through the town.

During floods in 2016 and May, 2018, water rushing down Main Street overwhelmed culverts intended to harness the streams and creeks that flow downhill in Ellicott City, toward the Patapsco River.

Last week, a poll conducted for advocacy group Preservation Maryland showed 74 percent of those asked would support plans that don’t require tearing down buildings.

Kittleman and Weinstein dismissed the importance of the study, in a statement: “It is hard to take seriously a five-minute poll that tried to explain years of study, analysis and dozens of scenarios that were considered.”

“Our mission first and foremost is to protect lives,” continued the statement. “Based on the best meteorological guidance, time is is not on our side.”