Member of zoning panel vows fight to keep job Drummond defies resignation push

April 28, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

A year after voters elected a slate of younger, slow-growth activists to run things, the changing of the guard continues in Hampstead.

The mayor and council in the North Carroll town of 4,000 have taken the first steps to remove 60-year-old town planning and zoning commission member William T. Drummond.

But a public hearing, scheduled for Tuesday night in Town Hall, has been postponed, and Mr. Drummond, a planning commission member for almost two years, has hired a lawyer and says he has no intention of resigning.

Mr. Drummond said town officials have not informed him of the charges that he is facing. But they paid for a legal notice announcing the public hearing to "consider the removal of William T. Drummond."

"It looks like they want all the new people in there; I took an oath for five years and I plan on staying unless they remove me," Mr. Drummond said.

"If I resign, the people in Hampstead will think I've done something crooked. I have nothing to hide, and I feel this is America and I have a right to stand my ground," he said.

Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin and Town Council members declined to discuss the nature of the allegations against Mr. Drummond.

Mr. Nevin said that the council has the authority to remove commission members for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

"This is not by any means a normal or usual occurrence," said Neil M. Ridgely, town manager. "It's very awkward."

Since they took office last May, Hampstead's new leaders have wasted no time in making changes. One of their first targets was the town planning commission.

Charles Walter, a 79-year-old commission member, resigned at the request of Mr. Nevin, but two other members, Mr. Drummond and Arthur H. Moler, refused the mayor's request to step down. At its first meeting, the new town council voted to investigate the two planning commission members.

"I support Bill Drummond," Mr. Moler said. "The town's got a tiger by the tail."

Mr. Drummond said that the Town Council originally scheduled a public hearing on his removal for April 2, but that he requested a postponement to give him time to hire a lawyer.

"They thought I was going to come up without a lawyer so they could throw me off the board," he said.

The new council members have criticized Mr. Drummond and Mr. Moler's actions on the planning commission, saying that they gave carte blanche permission to developers, ignoring the town's adequate-facilities rules when approving subdivisions.

Mr. Drummond also drew criticism from some of the new town leaders for his behavior during a planning commission meeting in September 1994, a month after he was appointed to the board.

Mr. Drummond lost his temper and yelled for several minutes at a citizen who spoke about a development issue during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The incident led town resident Ken Meekins, who Mr. Nevin has nominated as Hampstead's new police chief, to call for Mr. Drummond's removal from the commission.

Mr. Meekins, who was appointed to the planning commission about six months ago, expressed concerns to Hampstead's former mayor, C. Clinton Becker, about Mr. Drummond's potential to "explode into violence."

Mr. Nevin said Mr. Drummond's decisions on the planning ZTC commission and his exchange with a citizen did not play a role in the council's latest decision to seek his removal from the board.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

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