South Carroll group to press concerns about growth in meeting with county Residents collecting funds to hire an attorney

June 23, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

A group of South Carroll residents, furious that residential development continues unchecked in the area, is taking matters into its own hands.

The group enlisted the support of County Commissioner Richard T. Yates Friday in setting up a meeting next week to air its concerns and present demands to the County Commissioners.

And it might hire a lawyer to try to force four unidentified members off the seven-member Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission because of an alleged conflict of interest.

Most of the 16 residents and business people who gathered in an Eldersburg restaurant Friday were irate about the planning commission's approval last week of final plans for four South Carroll subdivisions with a total of 230 lots.

Fueling their ire was the commission's vote to approve one of those subdivisions after most of the opponents had left. The commission had rejected the subdivision plans earlier in the day.

"Four people are controlling 20,000 people's lives, and those four people are not elected," Eldersburg attorney Kenneth Holniker told residents Friday. He and Gene Edwards, a 25-year resident of South Carroll, sought help soliciting funds to hire attorney and former County Commissioner Jeff Griffith to represent them before the planning commission and the County Commissioners.

They have received $500 in gifts of $25 to $50, Holniker said, and expect to have raised $1,000 by tomorrow.

With tempers short, the hiring of a lawyer would allow residents to present a reasoned case with "a little less emotion," Holniker said.

Having a lawyer to represent them would show community solidarity and support, he said. "I want the public to know that a lawsuit is possible. I don't feel like going down without trying."

Edwards said, "We may need his advice on how to remove four members [of the planning commission] for conflict of interest."

Not everyone agreed that a lawyer was necessary. Slow-growth activist Dan Hughes, founder of Solutions for a Better South Carroll, said all that is needed is for the County Commissioners to put a moratorium on building permits.

Members of the group agreed to make that one of their demands when they meet with the commissioners.

"Your requests are going to be taken up [by the commissioners] this week," Yates told the group. "I sleep well. I made two picks [of people to serve on the planning commission], and my picks work as they should."

One of the members appointed by Yates, alternate Grant S. Dannelly of Marriottsville, passed out statistics he compiled showing that he and commission member Joseph H. Mettle, Yates' other appointment, consistently vote against development while the remaining members vote consistently to approve it.

"What I see is more than just a trend," Dannelly said. "There are a number of people not being responsible."

As attacks grew more personal, Holniker urged caution. "We should not be critical of anyone right now," he said. "We need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Pub Date: 6/23/96

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