Yates, Brown overstepped their boundsThe members of the...

Letters

August 25, 1996

Yates, Brown overstepped their bounds

The members of the Carroll County home building industry are deeply disturbed by the manner in which commissioners Benjamin Brown and Richard Yates ousted planning commission member Robert Lennon.

Their action contradicts Mr. Yates' declaration that we are a "nation of laws." Obviously, the name of their game is eliminating those whose opinions differ with theirs in order to accomplish their mission. That, in simple terms, is what Mr. Brown and Mr. Yates have done.

Since the Carroll County Ethics Commission determined that Mr. Lennon put himself in a compromising situation earlier this year, Mr. Yates said he must be held responsible for his actions. Keep in mind that the ethics commission did not advise that Mr. Lennon be removed from the planning commission.

Instead, its final report suggested that in the future Mr. Lennon refrain from voting on properties with which he at one time had business dealings. And yet this defender of laws and our legal system assisted Mr. Brown in pursuing a public lynching to gain even more control over the Carroll County Planning Commission, a body on which Mr. Yates already has a seat and a vote.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Yates have been testing legal boundaries since they were inaugurated. Their goal has been to determine how best they could pander to a vocal minority of citizens who they believe elected them to office. The rest of us, the other 142,000-plus taxpayers and residents of Carroll County, are expected to sit on the sidelines while our rights continue to be battered.

Mr. Lennon has been accused of being pro-growth, a label any knowledgeable developer in the county knows is inappropriate.

He has never bent over backward, as his accusers would allege, to push through development projects where public facilities were not adequate, nor in any way maneuver around the county's existing land-use laws or regulations on behalf of a property owner. However, during his tenure on the planning commission, Mr. Lennon was able to stabilize what has become an increasingly political body.

Prior to the removal, Commissioner Donald Dell cautioned Mr. Yates and Mr. Brown that they should investigate their authority to remove an appointed official. He suggested the appropriate process would allow for Mr. Lennon to present his own defense, an option he did not have before the ethics commission. But the rush to judgment was on, their eyes fixed on the target, so the Board of County Commissioners sat down for an hour and voted 2-1 to remove Mr. Lennon on questionable grounds.

Public officials are elected to represent the interests of their constituents. There is a large and active voting bloc that Mr. Brown and Mr. Yates have repeatedly ignored.

I am a registered voter and I have great respect for the democratic process. I am, however, disenchanted with the commissioners' recent display of political power plays.

The citizens of Carroll County deserve fair and honest representation. The way in which Messrs. Yates and Brown orchestrated Mr. Lennon's dismissal was neither fair nor honest.

Gregory S. Dorsey

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Carroll County chapter of the Home Builders Association of Maryland.

The Greater Westminster Development Corporation is increasingly concerned about the stability of the Carroll County Planning Commission.

Public confidence is being shaken by recent events, including the removal of a valuable commission member. This points up the immediate need for less political interference from both the public and the commissioners.

Commission members should be appointed and re-appointed based on operating independently of the commissioners. The members should serve the public by understanding the discussions and voting on the factual merits of pending cases. County planning decisions should be based on fairness to all applicants.

The Greater Westminster Development Corp. believes that that we need both stability in the planning process and greater diversity on the planning commission.

We would like to request that the county commissioners concentrate their efforts in the following areas: There should be no litmus test for prospective planning commission members, other than a willingness to serve and a professional and/or educational background.

We think the commissioners need to focus on the administration of the county budget and the work of the county departments. These taxpayer-supported activities at the county level represent the real job of a commissioner.

Micromanagement of the legally constituted planning body under state law is not acceptable. The county planning commission should not be accountable to the local elected officials who are representing their own political constituencies.

James H. Dulany, IV

Westminster

The writer is president of the Greater Westminster Development Corp.

While Robert Lennon proceeds through the legal system, as well he should, it appears the commissioners over-stepped the letter of the law.

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