Finksburg citizens group honors Brown, who offers advice on new commissioners

November 20, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Carroll County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown received a "Friend of Finksburg" award last night from the Finksburg Planning Area Council, after advising the group on dealing with the new board of commissioners.

"Continue approaching issues the way you are doing -- with a very realistic, common-sense method that gives people in elected office the notion that they can talk to you," said Brown, 54, who will leave office next month after an unsuccessful race for a state delegate seat.

He told the group that it should avoid the mistakes of some activists in South Carroll, who began well but became "a group where you want to go out the back door when they come in the front."

"You don't have to be nasty, you just have to be persistent," he said. "Keep your new Board of County Commissioners very aware of your concerns."

Brown answered questions about growth control, regulating signs, the new master plan and the possible extension of Interstate 795. The proposed road extension is a concern for some county residents but he assured the group it will not happen in the near future.

"I don't want to see [Interstate] 795 cut a swath through the heart of what I consider the most beautiful part of Carroll County," said Brown. He urged the group to support growth-control measures so the county won't "put the cart back before the horse -- with development driving."

"We are now part of the second- or third-largest metropolitan region in the United States, with the major infrastructure in Baltimore and Washington. Consequently, people are going to be back and forth to work outside Carroll County," Brown said.

Quality development with unobtrusive campus-style zoning and environmental protections would be an asset, he said.

"He's been a friend to Finksburg," said David O'Callaghan, president of the citizens group for Finksburg, a designated growth area for the county but not an incorporated town with a mayor and council. He awarded Brown a plaque and a Finksburg baseball cap.

"He has tried to give us patient guidance," said Finksburg board member Neil Ridgely, who serves as town manager in Hampstead. "We haven't always agreed, but isn't that expected in all matters politic?"

Brown told the group he began his political career after learning that a video arcade was planned across from his home. He joined with neighbors to defeat the project. The effort led to the formation of a neighborhood association, a seat on Westminster's board of zoning appeals, two winning elections for mayor of Westminster, and four years as a county commissioner.

"There is no winter of discontent," Brown said of his loss in a tough, five-person race in the Republican primary for three General Assembly seats in District 5. He said he had decided to leave the time-consuming job as county commissioner to be with his family.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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