Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. yesterday nominated Deputy Zoning Commissioner Timothy M. Kotroco to be director of Permits and Development Management, a post with tremendous authority over the application of county development laws and code enforcement.
The current director, Arnold Jablon, is retiring at the end of the month after decades with the county, but Smith has had difficulty finding a replacement for the high-profile post who is acceptable to both him and the County Council.
Last month, the Smith administration confirmed that the executive intended to nominate Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt to the post, but then equivocated a few days later amid objections from community groups and signals that the council might not vote for confirmation. It is unclear whether he will find enough votes for Kotroco to win confirmation.
But representatives of many of the same community groups that objected to Schmidt said yesterday that they have no problem with Kotroco. The Perry Hall Improvement Association, one of the largest and best-organized community groups in the county, lobbied hard to stop Schmidt's nomination but appears likely to support Kotroco.
"We look at this position as the No. 1 position that will have an impact on communities," said Dennis Eckard, a member of the Perry Hall board.
Smith said he originally floated Kotroco's name to the council a few months ago but did not nominate him because some council members were pushing for another candidate. Council members have said they wanted Raymond S. "Rick" Wisnom, who heads up the county's code enforcement.
Smith said he didn't believe this other candidate - he did not mention Wisnom by name - was ready for the director's post but that both Kotroco and Schmidt are equally well qualified. Both are attorneys, a qualification Smith said is important for the job.
Smith's chief adviser, George Shoenberger, called council members Friday to inform them that the executive would be nominating Kotroco, the same procedure he used last month in announcing he would nominate Schmidt.
The executive did not, in either case, ask the council members for their support before committing to the nomination, and none of the council members said yesterday that they have promised to support Kotroco.
"I'm hopeful they will see the talent and experience and independence that's represented by either one of these gentlemen, and certainly by the one I'm nominating," Smith said. "I'm optimistic that they're going to confirm Mr. Kotroco."
Kotroco said he appreciates the confidence the executive has in him and would be excited to do the job, but he declined to comment on the appointment otherwise.
Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat, said he thinks Kotroco is a "reasonable pick."
Councilman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, said that while he finds Kotroco very capable, he is concerned that the nominee has no experience in code enforcement, which he said is extremely important in older neighborhoods.
Smith also formally nominated Teresa Stokes-Hill for director of Human Resources and Barry Williams for director of Employment and Training. Both nominees are black, and if they are confirmed, Smith would have more high-ranking African-Americans in his administration than any previous county executive.