Dell's, Yates' ex-allies hope to oust them S. Carroll organizers hope to build coalition to back slow growth

'Dump Dell, yank Yates'

Zoning board choice, votes on panel's night meetings are cited

March 02, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Former allies of County Commissioner Richard T. Yates plan to meet in South Carroll tomorrow night to begin developing a strategy to defeat him and Commissioner Donald I. Dell in the 1998 election.

Their goal is to build a countywide coalition committed to recruiting and electing General Assembly and commissioner candidates who share their desire to slow or stop development until there are enough schools, roads, public utilities, police and fire personnel to adequately support it.

Organizers expect to attract 16 to 20 slow-growth advocates from Finksburg, New Windsor and South Carroll to the invitation-only event.

And although coalition leaders hope eventually to recruit candidates for county commissioner and the state legislature, their immediate focus is the defeat of Yates in 1998.

Former supporters are incensed by his recent vote with Dell to stop paying for night meetings of the county Planning and Zoning Commission, which slow-growth activists see as a move to limit citizen participation in the development process.

Dell and Yates say that the night meetings, which cost the county more than $7,000 a year, are unnecessary because of new rules that allow residents to participate in Subdivision Advisory Committee meetings, one of the first steps in the county's development review process.

Coalition leaders say they also resent Yates' appointment of longtime friend Hobart D. "Hoby" Wolf Jr. to the Board of Zoning Appeals instead of slow-growth activist Carolyn Fairbank, chairwoman of the Freedom Area Community Planning Council, who was Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown's nominee.

JTC "A large number of people are upset with Mr. Yates," said Eldersburg businessman Gene Edwards, one of the organizers of tomorrow night's meeting. "I found myself in the uncomfortable position of defending him in the past. I did it because he voted the right way. But no longer. I plan on actively working against him."

Edwards said that many South Carroll activists are also unhappy with Dell, a retired farmer who lives near Manchester.

"I voted for him in the last election," Edwards said, "because he said he wanted to keep Carroll 'country.' Little did I know he meant keep it country only in the area where he lives.

"We're going to dump Dell and yank Yates, and you can quote me on that," he said. "Gone are the days when Westminster is going to dominate an election. Hampstead, Freedom, Finksburg, and South Carroll have the majority of the county's population now."

Residents in those areas will elect candidates espousing a slow-growth platform, Edwards believes, because county government "virtually abandoned us to the developers."

When told last week of the move to oust him, Dell said: "I'm not surprised. It's the voters' prerogative. I'm not going to worry about it. I don't count votes when I do what I do. I do what I think is right. If they think I'm wrong, they can vote me out."

Yates, an Eldersburg resident, said: "I feel bad that some people in South Carroll felt I am not doing my job. I think it's because I appointed Hoby Wolf to the BZA. They wanted somebody else. Now they want to get rid of me."

In 1994, Yates received the most votes among commissioner candidates, with much of that support coming from South Carroll residents. "People may feel differently [now]. They possibly have the votes [to defeat him]. I don't know if they will take that many votes away from me, but if they do, that's fair," Yates said.

Yates bristled at the charge that he has strayed from the path that led to his election.

"It's ridiculous to say I've changed my position on growth," he said. "I've lived 34 years with the growth foisted on those people. We need schools, fire, police, roads. Once the infrastructure has been taken care of, the builders can begin again. I have never wavered from that position."

Planning commission Vice Chairman Joseph H. Mettle, a staunch supporter and defender of Yates until "the commissioner changed," favors formation of a countywide slow-growth political coalition at tomorrow night's meeting, but opposes a "dump Dell, yank Yates" emphasis.

"The focus is too narrow. We need to be more broadly based. If this is just a 'dump Dell, yank Yates' campaign, it will fail. People don't like negative campaigning," Mettle said.

"We'll need about 30,000 votes" per office to win elections and about 3,000 to 4,000 supporters "to spread the word and get the vote out" -- a goal Mettle said he thinks is attainable.

"The key is that this has to be nonpartisan," Mettle said. "I am a staunch Republican. I've been a Republican all my life. But if a Democrat wants what's better for the citizens of Carroll County, then I will vote for him" ahead of Republicans Dell and Yates.

The move to oust Dell and Yates is happening so quickly that even activist Fairbank, who has worked closely with Edwards in the past and who presides over the planning council of which he is a member, was unaware the group was being created.

"I hadn't heard that," Fairbank said in a telephone interview from Florida. "But I know a lot of people are upset with Commissioner Dell and Commissioner Yates."

Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman said he has heard political rumblings.

"I know for certain that a good number of citizens in South Carroll are concerned about growth, development and planning," he said. "The Eldersburg area has no formal representative, and they're still feeling a little bit left out.

"They feel that developers may not have paid their way, but have left them to pay for the development of parks and schools and police," Herman said. "Many also feel that the county has a certain addiction to residential development because it is the only real business in the county other than agriculture."

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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