Attorney Lennon ousted from planning board

July 16, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

A divided Board of County Commissioners expelled Westminster attorney Robert H. Lennon from the Planning and Zoning Commission yesterday, saying he had violated the county ethics law.

Lennon's supporters said the expulsion amounted to a personal vendetta and was part of a campaign by Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates -- who voted against Lennon -- to control the planning review panel.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who appointed Lennon to the planning commission, called yesterday's procedure a "witch hunt."

"I'm very disappointed," said Dell, who voted for Lennon. "It's like taking a license away for driving 51 miles an hour in a 50-mph zone, except that I don't think Bob is guilty of anything."

The Carroll County Ethics Commission, in a three-page opinion signed by two of its three members, said Lennon's legal work on behalf of owners of small lots on agricultural land violated two provisions of the county ethics law.

First, the commission said, Lennon was employed by a "business entity" regulated by the planning commission. Second, his employment gave rise "to a reasonable likelihood of an impairment of impartiality."

The Ethics Commission said Lennon "must refrain from such outside employment in the future" but did not call for his resignation or expulsion.

The panel said Lennon helped a landowner get "off conveyances" allowing the owner to develop lots on his property. Several months later, Lennon proposed that water and sewer service be brought to the property and several others, the panel said.

Lennon told the commissioners yesterday that he absented himself from the vote and the deliberations when the water and sewer matter first came up in December 1994. But when it came up again March 21, 1995, he said, he no longer represented the client.

The panel said Lennon should not accept such clients while serving on the commission.

Lennon's supporters said the 2-1 vote was politically motivated and resulted from his votes to approve many subdivision plans opposed by Yates and Brown.

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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