Three-Legged Race?

February 28, 1994

In recent weeks, Carroll County's three commissioners have been less collegial than usual.

Like any threesome, relations are often difficult with two siding against one, but the past practice of Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy ganging up against Julia W. Gouge is ending. Instead, Mr. Lippy, judging from some of his statements during the last two months, seems to be putting more distance between himself and his former ally.

He went out of his way to point out in an interview earlier this month that he did not vote in favor of the High Ridge land condemnation, an obscure issue that means little to most county residents. Mr. Dell and Mrs. Gouge had voted in favor of condemning a small parcel of land owned by the High Ridge Community Association so an adjacent landowner could extend High Ridge Road into his property and build 13 homes.

Mr. Lippy, however, went so far as to call the entire case "repugnant."

Mr. Dell did not follow his usual practice of keeping to himself his reaction to his colleagues' public statements. Rather, Mr. Dell issued a three-page, single-spaced letter detailing the reasoning behind his vote. He also made a pointed reference to Mr. Lippy: "I will continue to make decisions based on what I believe is right rather than bowing to political expediency," Mr. Dell wrote.

Last week, in another matter, Mr. Lippy allowed how he wasn't totally convinced about the wisdom of Mr. Dell's proposal to place a library in the village of Linwood. Rather than place the branch in a remote rural area, Mr. Lippy said he favored placing smaller storefront libraries in New Windsor and Union Bridge or putting a library in the soon-to-be vacant New Windsor Middle School. He also pointed out the commissioners never discussed these various options among themselves.

This being an election year, a certain amount of political grandstanding and posturing is to be expected. But these incidents suggest there is more afoot than people trying to position themselves in the most favorable political light.

The decision-making process among the commissioners, which has never been all that smooth, seems to be deteriorating even more. It would appear that we have yet to see the full extent of the differences among the county's top three officials.

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