Dispute Prompts Forester's Resignation

March 18, 1992|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

County forester Neil Ridgely resigned from the Forest Conservation Subcommittee yesterday, citing interference from a county developer.

The sudden resignation comes nearly two months before the committeemust present a draft of Carroll's conservation plan to the state andabout a week after developers attacked the ordinance during an Office of Environmental Services staff meeting with the commissioners.

"A certain developer's disenchantment with me has become an obstacle to the progress of this committee," Ridgely said while offering his resignation at Tuesday's subcommittee meeting.

Ridgley said problems between Martin K. P. Hill, the Manchester developer, and himself have muddied discussions about the proposed ordinance with the commissioners.

During last week's staff time with the commissioners, Ridgely and James E. Slater, environmental services administrator, were unable to discuss the proposed ordinance because Hill and Thomas M.Ballentine of the Home Builders Association of Marylandused much of the 30-minute session to question the planner's presentation, Ridgelysaid.

A similar disruption stymied discussion at the previous staff time as well, he said.

"(The commissioners) have not gotten past the first half-page of the report," Ridgely said. "We have wasted precious time."

State planners must receive a commissioner-approveddraft of the ordinance by April 30.

Hill and Ballentine have saidthe county ordinance is too strict.

Among other provision, the county ordinance would require developers to pay a $1 per square foot reforestation fee (10 times the state fee) or file forestry conservation plans prepared by a registered forester.

If a county plan is not enacted, the state ordinance would take effect.

"Staff is obviously trying to paint a very negative picture of the state legislation," Hill said in a letter to Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy. "The appalling thing is that they are using omissions, half-truths and outright falsehoods to accomplish their mission."

"This is typical of the review policies of the same staff. Please demand honest facts. Don't accept the personal likes and dislikes of a staff member in place of truth."

Ridgely, who was appointed to the committee by the Environmental Affairs Advisory Board, is its only staff member. The board may appoint another member, if it chooses, he said.

"I'm the staff assignment, the only one in my division of county government," Ridgely said. "You might as well put my name (in the letter from Hill)."

Lippy, who said he respects the opinions of both Hill and Ridgley, said the dispute between the two is of a personal nature and pre-dates work on the ordinance.

Hill was not available for comment yesterday.

Committee members, who said their focus was to clarify the state legislation and make it applicable to Carroll, say the developer's allegations question the committee's existence.

The committee will defend the proposed ordinance and ask the commissioners for more direction at a March 26 meeting.

"It is an affront to me to be asked to serve on this committee and now I have to justify my existence," saidcommittee member Harry Staley. "From an economic standpoint, I am shooting myself in the foot by expressing my opinion because I'd make more under the state legislation."

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