Activist attacks Mariani's record, nomination to the planning board

September 23, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

County Council members and community activist John W. Taylor had an ugly shouting match Monday over the nomination of Theodore Mariani to the planning board.

Mr. Taylor attends most council meetings and testifies on a variety of issues, especially those related to growth. He told the council Monday that Mr. Mariani's should not be on the board because he's too pro-development.

"What you have here is pretty slanderous," Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th said following Mr. Taylor's testimony. Mr. Feaga defended his seat against Mr. Taylor in the September 1990 Republican primary.

"I'm surprised you're meeting me head-on for a change instead of waiting until I sit down," said Mr. Taylor. "It's a real switch."

Mr. Mariani, who works as an architect in Washington and lives in the county, had finished introducing himself to the council when Mr. Taylor testified against him.

During his testimony, Mr. Taylor accused Mr. Mariani of putting his own interests ahead of the land use commission by talking about a crucial vote in such a way as to imply that the vote was temporary rather than permanent.

"Mr. Mariani pushed very, very hard for that commission to recommend village-type development for the west," Mr. Taylor said. "In order to handle the human waste from the village, collection lagoons would be set up near the village. Solid waste would settle in the lagoons, and the liquid would be skimmed off, treated with chemicals and sprayed on a part of the open space around the village.

"This was called 'land application waste treatment' by Mr. Mariani. It was called risky, dangerous and unproven by many western citizens. Mr. Mariani really wanted to do this, and pushed the other commission members hard to recommend it."

As evidence of Mr. Mariani pushing his own interests ahead of the commission, Mr. Taylor pointed to an episode in which Mr. Mariani told reporters the commission had voted 4-3 not to recommend villages "at this time." What happened, Mr. Taylor said, is that the commission voted not to recommend villages "ever."

In addition, the commission's presentation of village and clustering concepts in June 1991 "under Mr. Mariani's leadership, was . . . a particularly slanted presentation -- pre-planned and staged to downplay and minimize the real issues," Mr. Taylor said.

"If he were appointed to the Planning Board, there is little reason to believe he would suddenly cease putting his own agenda ahead of what might be best for the citizens of this county in many other land use matters," Mr. Taylor said.

Immediately following Mr. Taylor's testimony, Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, called it "an unfair rewriting of history" since the council voted for villages and clustering in the General Plan and had asked the commission to explore ways to implement the concepts.

Mr. Taylor angrily defended his position, saying, "I can attack his credibility because I've got the facts. He kept pushing after the commission made its decision."

"Mr. Taylor has his own agenda," Mr. Mariani said after the hearing on his nomination. "His testimony doesn't bother me. I'm not going to get into an argument.

Mr. Mariani said he stands on his record as former chairman of the D.C. Zoning Commission and the Rural Land Use Study Commission.

The council will vote on Mr. Mariani's nomination Oct. 5.

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