Frazier beginning as chief planner She's taking over a commission split on pace of growth

September 01, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Robin M. Frazier of Manchester takes over this week as chairwoman of the county's Planning and Zoning Commission, a divided panel whose majority wants to slow growth in Carroll.

Frazier, a 36-year-old former mortgage officer and formerly the commission's vice chairwoman, did not expect or even want to be chairwoman. She was thrust into the post automatically last month when Chairman David T. Duree of New Windsor resigned to devote more time to his 1-year-old business.

"I am not thrilled," Frazier said. "I knew the possibility existed, but I didn't think it would actually happen."

She becomes chairwoman at a time when the commission is shuffling members; overseeing revisions to the county's master plan, its blueprint for growth; and reviewing county capital budget requests.

How long Frazier will remain as chairwoman is uncertain. Duree's yearlong term was to expire in October and Frazier has doubts about serving longer than that.

In the meantime, slow-growth advocates have been taking steps to make sure that her tenure as chairwoman is a short one.

County Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates last week filled two vacancies on the seven-member panel with residents who will support their slow-growth agenda.

"I don't think there is any chance of [Frazier] being chair or vice chair" when the commission elects officers in October, said commission member Joseph H. Mettle of Sykesville.

"She is definitely a holdover of the pro-growth people. And she stands alone," he added.

Mettle, who served on the Republican Central Committee with Frazier, is looking to supplant her as chairman. He hopes to be elected vice chairman Thursday and chairman in October.

Thomas G. Hiltz, a commission member from Woodbine, said he opposes that move because "the chairmanship should not be influenced by politics as much as it is."

Zeno M. Fisher Jr., a Westminster resident who resigned from the commission for health reasons last month, said the chairmanship previously was an honor accorded to the senior member of the panel. That practice ended last year when Duree was elected over Fisher, who then was the senior member.

Hiltz said he is ready to vote for Frazier, as senior member, to stay on as chairwoman.

Frazier, who left a 15-year career in mortgage banking to "stay home and raise kids," said she is "99 percent sure" she doesn't want to remain chairwoman longer than Duree would have.

"I want to do an A-plus job, not a C job," she said. "I need to learn more, understand the law better. I am going to be studying. But I don't have enough time to pour myself into it longer than three months."

In addition to raising three children, Frazier volunteers as director of a church youth program.

As chairwoman, she hopes to set a civilized tone on the panel.

"We're more politicized than we have been in a long, long time," she said. "I aim to keep things on track and to be fair. It's good to have all the different opinions. You might think of something you never thought of before. The best solution is when you have more opinions."

bTC Like Duree, Frazier will share her views but not vote except in case of a tie. Unlike Duree, she opposes using guidelines on the adequacy of schools, roads and public safety services to determine whether new developments should be approved.

"I'm concerned about the push to write down specific standards that say if you're on this side, you're OK, and if you're on the other, you're not," she said.

"We are a semijudicial body that is supposed to look at the facts and make a judgment. You have to do what you believe is fair, equitable and right," she added.

Standards deny that possibility, Frazier said. She noted that a young farm couple appeared before the commission in July, just after new standards for schools had been approved. The couple wanted to carve out a lot from the family farm for their home. They were told that their request would be denied under the new guidelines, which allow the commission to reject new subdivisions when schools are crowded. "They have never come back," she said.

"The main thing I'm interested in is that people's property rights are not infringed upon. I'd like to see less -- less government, less regulations, less ordinances. We can try to set up something that's a win-win situation.

"I think we can encourage people to do things better for the community. We don't have to make it a law."

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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