Panel avoids zoning clash

Commissioners concur with planners on 15 sites

Lame ducks draw boos

Candidates had lobbied to delay the decisions

October 24, 2002|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners avoided a confrontation with state leaders last night when they concurred with a series of recommendations by state planners on rezonings across the county.

Lame-duck Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell agreed with state recommendations or deferred decisions on 15 of the 16 rezonings in question. In doing so, they went along with the requests of State Secretary of Planning Roy Kienitz, who offered his positions on the potential rezonings in an Oct. 8 letter to the county board.

Dell and Frazier, both of whom lost decisively in the Republican primary Sept 10, often have clashed with Kienitz and Gov. Parris N. Glendening. State planning officials were unavailable for comment on the commissioners' decisions.

The commissioners considered 49 requests to alter zoning on parcels throughout the county. State planning officials had expressed particular concerns about the 16 parcels because if all had been rezoned, about 400 acres of agricultural and conservation land would have become available for commercial, industrial and residential uses.

The county's planning commission had recommended against those 16 rezonings, most of which involve properties in Finksburg and South Carroll. Many are in the Liberty Reservoir watershed. The commissioners voted against staff and planning commission recommendations on a handful of properties.

State leaders and commissioner candidates have said the board should not make important land-use decisions with a few weeks left in its term.

The third commissioner, Julia Walsh Gouge, who won in the GOP primary but must win in the Nov. 5 general election to keep her job, read a letter before the meeting suggesting that the current board leave such decisions to the next board, taking office in early December. The letter was signed by all eight commissioner candidates -- three from each major party, along with an independent and a Green Party hopeful.

But Dell and Frazier defended their right to make decisions on the rezonings.

"That's the most asinine thing I've ever heard of in Carroll County," Dell said of the letter, drawing boos from the large crowd at the meeting.

Dell went on to say he resented Gouge reading the letter, which she signed because it was not on the agenda for the meeting.

Frazier noted that the rezonings voted on last night had been on the table for years. "We've been jerking these people around for three years," she said. "It's time to finish this up."

Some of the zoning decisions last night drew boos, but many people appeared visibly relieved when Dell and Frazier decided not to defy state planning officials.

The meeting was marked with an intensity rare for land-use deliberations.

Democratic commissioner candidate Neil Ridgely had circulated an e-mail yesterday telling his supporters to attend the session so they could express disgust with the policymaking by Dell and Frazier.

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