Forest conservation manager resigns

January 22, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Neil Ridgely, Carroll County's landscape and forest conservation manager, announced Friday he is quitting to manage a tree and shrub farm in Linwood.

Mr. Ridgely, 46, of Finksburg was a Democratic candidate for county commissioner last fall. He lost in the primary.

He said he is not leaving his county job as a result of the election, but because the opportunity to manage the farm presented itself.

He will work at Clear Ridge Native Plant Nursery in the 200 block of Clear Ridge Road. Joe and Sharon Barley own the business, which is on their 100-acre farm.

Mr. Ridgely's last day in the county position will be Feb. 3.

He often found himself in controversial situations as landscape and forest conservation manager. He decided which housing developments were subject to the county forest conservation ordinance.

Developers generally opposed the ordinance, which was written after the Maryland Department of the Environment required counties to try to preserve forests.

Mr. Ridgely said Friday he is worried that the county will not be as vigilant about forest conservation after he leaves.

"I want to leave on a positive note, but I am very, very concerned about the future of the forest conservation ordinance and the integrity of the Office of Environmental Services," he said.

In late December, the new commissioners moved the environmental office to the Department of General Services, which reviews development plans, among other things.

Mr. Ridgely said the environmental office should be independent and not associated with a department that works with developers.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said Friday that the commissioners had not discussed how to handle the position after Mr. Ridgely leaves. The landscape and forest conservation manager job could be moved to another department or the job could be covered without hiring anyone, he said.

It's also possible that the commissioners will solicit applications and hire someone for the position, Mr. Dell said. The board will be looking for ways to save money, he said.

Mr. Ridgely had worked for county government since June 1989, and earned $32,721 a year.

At his new job, he will handle the production and sale of trees and shrubs.

"The plants are targeted for conservation markets," Mr. Ridgely said.

Many of them will be used in stream restoration, wetlands mitigation and forest conservation projects, he said.

Mr. Ridgely said he met Mr. Barley when both were named to the Westminster Tree Commission eight years ago. Mr. Barley is a forester for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

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