9 Members Appointed To Charter Panel

Board Will Write Document On Changing Form Of Government

Would Appear On Ballot

Supporters Gathered About 5,000 Signatures In Petition Drive

April 23, 1997|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners appointed a nine-member board yesterday to write a charter that could change Carroll's government to an executive and county council.

Charter supporters collected nearly 5,000 signatures demanding the appointments. The board can take up to 18 months to write a charter, or it could amend a proposed charter that failed at the polls five years ago.

Once written, a charter would appear on the ballot, possibly in 1998 along with a newly enacted legislative initiative to expand the Board of Commissioners from three members to five.

Before announcing the appointments, Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown took a final opportunity to urge his colleagues to appoint charter supporters to the board.

"You would not have appointed King George and the Tories to write the Declaration of Independence," Brown said. "The people who petitioned voters believe in charter. They should write it."

Each commissioner appointed three members; Brown chose from a list of 24 names submitted by charter proponents. He selected Ann Ballard, Christopher M. Nevin and Neal Powell.

Nevin, Hampstead mayor, has led the charter effort along with Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman.

"My greatest concern is that this board has people who want to write the best document possible for Carroll County voters to consider, a clear charter that appeals to the majority," Nevin said.

Ballard, a member of the county Board of Education, helped collect signatures during the petition drive. Powell, former mayor and city manager of Taneytown, served on the 1992 charter commission.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates had an application, printed once in a local newspaper, for those interested in volunteering for the board. Of the 43 who responded, 18 were on the proponents' list but Yates ignored those applicants.

The list included community activists, attorneys and several residents who have been outspoken on the need to manage growth.

"Yates ran for commission on managed growth," said Dan Hughes, founder of Solutions for a Better South Carroll and a volunteer coordinator for the charter effort. "His failure to appoint those who favor that is another slap at the constituency that elected him."

Yates said his overriding concern was a candidate's ability to write the best charter.

"I didn't ask if they were pro or con, just could they write charter," Yates said.

He appointed Regan Cherney, former member of the Republican Central Committee; Romeo Valianti, chairman of the county Liquor Board; and Lynn Pipher, a Woodbine farmer and member of the Carroll Landowners Association.

Valianti, a retired state employee, urged the public to attend charter meetings.

"We can't write this without help from the community," he said.

Pipher said, "As far as I am concerned, any government that is run right will be good government."

Commissioner Donald I. Dell has said repeatedly that he wanted a few charter opponents on the board. He appointed Roger Wolf, a South Carroll tree farmer; Carmen Amedori, a free-lance writer; and New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr.

Amedori volunteered for the job, and "Dell never asked me my position on charter," she said.

While she is doing her homework reading charters from neighboring counties, she remains ambivalent on the issue and certain she can add objectivity to the debate, she said.

As a mayor, Gullo said he works with a charter government every day and "knows through experience the shortcomings and advantages."

"I want to explore the process and get input from the people of Carroll County," Gullo said. "My responsibility is to write an efficient charter that represents the interests of those people."

Any resident dissatisfied with the appointments has one option: Collect signatures from 2,000 voters and force the county to hold a special election. The commissioners' appointees would appear on the same ballot, and the election would cost $104,000.

Charter proponents will evaluate the appointments and make a decision on whether to launch another petition drive, Hughes said.

Pub Date: 4/23/97

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