Planning panel has two new members Alternate also chosen

all share philosophy of slow growth

August 27, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates sought to shore up the Planning and Zoning Commission yesterday, appointing two new members and an alternate who share their slow-growth philosophy.

"Commissioner Yates and I thought these were the best nominees," Brown said yesterday after he and Yates appointed Melvin E. Baile Jr. of New Windsor, Grant S. Dannelly of Marriottsville and Deborah Ridgely of Finksburg to the commission.

Ridgely will serve as an alternate.

The appointments signal a shift in power on the contentious, seven-member commission but did not end the controversy which has dogged the planning review panel for more than a year.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell complained that he was shut out of the selection process.

"My nominee was not even considered," he said after the new members were appointed in a closed-door meeting of the commissioners. "I am really disappointed in Commissioner Yates. I thought he had higher principles. Commissioner Brown never surprises me."

Dell had hoped to choose a member or alternate.

"There were three appointments," he said. "I thought it would be fair if each one of us made one. My appointment was a straight-forward, honest man who would have upheld the law and been fair with everyone."

Although he holds Baile in high esteem, Dell wanted a different representative from the farm community to serve on the planning commission because Baile already is chairman of the Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

"It doesn't make sense to me to have the same person serve on two such important panels," Dell said.

But Baile's commitment to agricultural land preservation is the reason Brown selected him.

"Melvin Baile Jr. is a farmer who wants to farm for the next 30 to 35 years," Brown said. "There is no better representative of the farming community."

Baile, a crop farmer who also raises sheep and cattle, has "a wealth of knowledge," Brown said. "He is the exactly the kind of person who should be reshaping and refocusing the county master plan for the next quarter-century, and he will do it better than in the last 25 years."

The county is updating its Master Plan, and the planning commission plays a major role in that process.

Yates said he "yielded to the demands of the public and the Annapolis delegation" in appointing a representative from the farming community to the planning commission.

Baile and the other appointees "will vote against subdivision plan approval if the facilities aren't adequate and support them if they are adequate," Yates said.

Until July, the planning commission consistently voted by a one-vote margin to approve subdivision plans in areas which were certified as having inadequate facilities.

But Brown and Yates said the appointees they named yesterday are "committed to agricultural land preservation and adequate facilities" tests -- instruments Brown and Yates believe will slow the county's growth as they promised in the 1994 election.

In his selection of Dannelly, Yates noted that the former alternate was "the most vocal about growth" of anyone on the commission.

Dannelly also voted against subdivision plans more often than any other member of the commission.

"He made a good alternate," Yates said. "He will make a good member."

As for Ridgely, who works as a team manager for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Brown said it is her "commitment to agricultural preservation and adequate facilities," and the fact she is a resident of the Finksburg area that led to her selection.

Ridgely is married to Hampstead Town Manager Neil Ridgely.

Yates added that "it makes sense to have another woman on there."

Robin M. Frazier of Manchester had been the only woman on the commission.

Pub Date: 8/27/96

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