Another misstep for planners

Carroll County: Member's vote for road across his property proves again that ethics code is lacking.

September 14, 1999

HERE WE GO again. Another member of the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission is accused of having a conflict of interest in the panel's decisions. Grant S. Dannelly voted for a commission proposal to reroute a new county road across property he owns in the Freedom area.

Three years ago, the county tried to expel planning commission member and real estate lawyer Robert H. Lennon, who voted on development planning decisions affecting his former clients. The courts ordered Mr. Lennon's reinstatement; he later resigned anyway. Member David T. Duree was challenged, but exonerated, for the professional ties of his wastewater treatment firm to the town of Lineboro, which was seeking planning changes.

Subsequent consensus was that county law, which requires commission members to disclose any potential conflict of interest and to recuse themselves from voting on such issues, was sufficient.

Mr. Dannelly said he forgot about the roughly quarter-acre of land he owns (with two other families) when he voted for the road across the property as part of the Freedom plan update. However, in recent years he had rejected a county offer to buy the land. Also, he wrote two versions of the Freedom area plan that included his property. That's not something many people would forget.

Disclosure came not from Mr. Dannelly, unfortunately, but after a complaint to the county commissioners. The ethics commission is investigating. At the very least, Mr. Dannelly owes an apology to the commission and public.

The ethics code must require planning body members to fully disclose ownership or financial interest in any Carroll property and to recuse themselves from any decision involving their personal interest. If not, automatic expulsion should be the remedy.

Pub Date: 9/14/99

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