- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
La Plata Town Council members worked Tuesday on revising the town’s ward map to balance the population in each ward and account for future growth.
The ward map splits the town into four sections. One person from each ward is elected to serve on the town council. Wards must be contiguous and be close in population size.
Councilman Wayne Winkler lives in Ward I, Councilman Keith Back lives in Ward II, Councilwoman Paddy Mudd lives in Ward III and Councilman Joseph Norris lives in Ward IV.
The La Plata Board of Supervisors of Elections, which meets every two years to discuss potential changes to the ward map, recommended a few changes, including portions of Ward III becoming Ward IV and portions of Ward II becoming Ward I.
The ward map recommended by the town election board takes into account U.S. Census data from 2010, which indicated the town grew by 33 percent, from 6,556 in 2000 to 8,753 in 2010.
If the ward map remained the same but with new Census data, Ward I would include 19.9 percent of the population, Ward II would include 34.7 percent, Ward III would include 24.8 percent and Ward IV would include 20.6 percent.
The election board-recommended map proposed Ward I with 2,307 people or 26.4 percent of the population, Ward II with 2,486 people or 28.4 percent, Ward III with 1,779 people or 20.3 percent, and Ward IV with 2,181 people or 24.9 percent.
Town council members, however, wanted to change the map further to make it more contiguous and balanced in population, and to account for future growth.
Council members agreed to change Ward III so that it represented only areas south of Route 6 and west of Oak Avenue.
Currently, the ward has an hourglass shape, with the halves connected by a narrow strip at the intersection of Route 6 and the CSX railroad tracks. The area north of Route 6 that used to be part of Ward III will now be in Ward IV. This includes Phoenix Run, Arundel Hills and other neighborhoods.
Portions west of Kent Avenue that were in Ward III are now in Ward I.
Mudd said she was concerned that Ward II was the largest ward and included both Agricopia and the entire Heritage Green neighborhood, which are expected to grow substantially in the future.
As a result, council members decided to include some of the southern portions of Heritage Green in Wards I and IV, using the future Heritage Green parkway as the dividing line between the wards.
Back said that as Heritage Green grows, additional land could go to Ward I to balance out the population growth.
The council also decided to keep all of town land south of Glen Albin in Ward III and add land west of Oak Avenue in Ward IV to Ward III to account for losing population north of Route 6.
In the process of drafting a revised map, the council tried to include areas of growth in each ward. Ward I received areas of Heritage Green to be developed and may include future annexations west of U.S. 301. Ward II has areas of Heritage Green and Agricopia to be developed. Ward III has the Villages of Steeplechase, and Ward IV has portions of Heritage Green.
Back said that ultimately, the town council members represent all of the 8,753 people in the town, but each ward includes future growth.
“The reason for the wards is so that the population is represented from all the wards,” Mayor Roy Hale said, adding that otherwise, people from one neighborhood could try to get all four council member positions and not include representation from other regions.