Community activist John Taylor said the County Council was "absolutely egregious" last week by omitting him from a land-use commission tobe appointed tomorrow night.
By rejecting him, the council showedits "development-oriented agenda," Taylor said. "They don't want someone sitting there who's going to upset that apple cart in any way."
Taylor, a 35-year-old Highland resident who lost by 201 votes to incumbent council member Charles C. Feaga in the Republican primary last September, has built a reputation as a frequent foe of development interests.
He says his opposition qualifies him for commission membership. The council "knew I would function in a watchdog capacity," he said. "They just didn't want it."
The commission will examinealternatives to clustered development for the rural western portion of the county. Clustering concentrates development in an area of a parcel to keep the remaining acres less developed.
Council chairman C. Vernon Gray bluntly said that he ruled Taylor out during the selection "because you're opposed to this whole idea (of clustered zoning). . . and I'm opposed to having someone on the commission without anopen mind."
Taylor told Gray that since clustering is part of thegeneral plan, he is more amenable to the concept, though he is concerned about the effects of wells and septic systems on ground water.
"The decisions of the commission will be far-reaching," Taylor said. "Not to have a citizen representative is a serious oversight," especially when the commission is "top-heavy with people with development interests."
Council members disagreed, pointing to former State Senate president James Clark Jr., a principal architect of the county's farmland preservation program, who is a member. Bruce Brendel, a farmer, and Randall Nixon, a farm owner with assorted business interests, are others.
As for citizen participation, Tom Mateya of Savagehas impressive credentials as a community activist, council member Shane Pendergrass told Taylor, adding that the commission is "pretty balanced."
Taylor, who works as a program manager for Westinghouse,objected that Mateya's occupation as a bank officer puts him in the developers' camp.
Taylor also pointed to himself as having one credential that not too many citizens can claim to have -- the large block of support of the 1,049 people who voted for him in the primary.
Farragut encouraged Taylor "to stay involved in the process" by attending commission meetings. Taylor said that was not the same thing as having a citizen representative who would bring "consistency and proven dependability" to the commission.
After meeting with the council, Taylor said he hoped people would protest by mail and by phone tomorrow.
He said he would attend commission hearings and follow the deliberations closely, because "I owe it to the people" who supported him in the September election.
In addition to Brendel, Clark, Mateya and Nixon, commission members to be appointed tomorrow are planner Ann Jones Koch, businessman Ted Mariani, and attorney Richard Talkin.