The Anne Arundel County Council has reduced the scope of a proposal bill that is intended to mitigate crime at commercial properties, notably at smaller hotels in Laurel along Route 198, so it now applies only to hotels with 200 rooms or less. Introduced by Councilman Andrew Pruski (District 4), Bill 87-16 would apply to businesses with 10 or more “nuisance” arrests that could be issued via public nuisance notice by the police. That would allow the county to temporarily shutter businesses that are found in violation until the owner(s) address the issues.

The measure has faced continued opposition from County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration, as well as some council members. They’re concerned that some of the county’s large businesses, such as Arundel Mills or Maryland Live! Casino, could be temporarily shut down if the bill passed in its original form.

In a recent email, Pruski stated that “some of the hotels along the Route 198 Corridor [in Laurel] have consistently remained an area of continuous criminal activity, including human trafficking, prostitution and drug related arrests. The public record of these crimes can be found not only in the newspaper, but also by the number of police and EMS calls. To quantify the issue, over the past three years, 4,551 police calls and 610 fire/EMS calls have been made to several hotels along the Route 198 Corridor in Laurel. In some cases, these calls equal an average of five calls daily for a single establishment.”

Pruski continued. “Based upon continued concerns raised by residents, I introduced Bill 115-15 and Bill 117-15. Both of these bills were the first step in increasing zoning enforcement and health inspections for the hotels. Bill 115-15 and Bill 117-15 both passed the county council and were signed by the county executive. Due to the passage of this legislation along with the increased health and zoning inspections, a hotel in the county was closed and an illegal used car lot was shut down at another hotel.

“Since Bill 115-15 and Bill 117-15 were passed, the number of police and fire/EMS calls to the hotels have decreased. However, high levels of criminal activity [have] continued,” he said. “Therefore, further action is necessary. After receiving advice from the Anne Arundel County Police Command Staff and the Anne Arundel County Office of Law, I introduced Public Nuisance Bill 87-16.”