Crofton group leaves council

Civic association splits from larger organization after disagreements about land-use issues

November 20, 2005|By CHRIS YAKAITIS | CHRIS YAKAITIS,SUN REPORTER

The Crofton Civic Association has withdrawn its membership from the Greater Crofton Council, saying the larger group's positions on recent land issues are at odds with community interests.

Steve Grimaud, president of the association, said the decision to leave the GCC was touched off by negotiations over Cunningham Sand and Gravel's request to expand its mine in Gambrills by 17 acres, which would bring it within several hundred yards of another development.

He said that the move, which came last week, was designed to support other homeowners associations that had opposed the mine expansion, such as the Four Seasons Community Association and the Courts of Four Seasons Homeowners Association. The GCC, meanwhile, has worked to negotiate a deal with Cunningham.

"The GCC was not set up to be a negotiating element [for the community]," Grimaud said. "It has some structural flaws that prevent it from being a fully representative organization."

GCC President Torrey C. Jacobsen Jr. criticized the move, saying his organization has the broader area's best interest in mind.

"If they weren't only really worried about themselves, if they were really worried about the community, they would have stayed in the GCC," he said. "We make things happen."

Jacobsen said that the Four Seasons Community Association reversed its opposition to the expansion at a meeting Nov. 7. No one from the Crofton Civic Association met with the Four Seasons group, he said.

"CCA was not at the hearing for Cunningham, and if they have any concern, that would have been the place to voice it," Jacobsen said.

Noting that neither he nor the Greater Crofton Council has signed an agreement with Cunningham, Jacobsen said he has been merely a facilitator in the negotiating process.

"I only help them with the agreement, with the negotiations, things to ask," he said.

Grimaud said the debate over the mine expansion was "sort of the last straw" that prompted CCA's move. The conflict dates to the Halle Cos.' request to build a landfill near the Little Patuxent River last year. He said that Jacobsen began negotiating an agreement with the company without consulting any of the homeowners associations on the council.

The Greater Crofton Council is made up of more than three dozen community organizations, including homeowners associations and recreational sports leagues. Jacobsen said that the council has helped secure deals that have brought tens of thousands of dollars into the community to support schools, build athletic fields, repair roads and fund open space projects.

GCC membership is growing despite the CCA's withdrawal, Jacobsen said, noting that Grimaud's group turned down repeated offers to become a voting member of the council. The Crofton Civic Association had been an "associate," or nonvoting member.

Grimaud said he is not concerned that the community he represents will lose its voice in local affairs, pointing to strong relationships with state and county officials.

"We have better representation by telling them directly how we feel on these issues," he said. "[The GCC] doesn't represent our positions."

The GCC Web site bills the group as "an association of community associations," but Grimaud and Joan Berry, president of the Four Seasons Community Association, said their groups are often at odds with the council.

"We've always been somewhat suspicious of everything that comes out of Crofton," Berry said. "There are only a minority of issues where we agree."

Berry said her group had no plans to withdraw from the council, but she declined to rule it out. "I wouldn't say that we're gung-ho about GCC," she said. "We're doing it as a marriage of convenience when we need it."

chris.yakaitis@baltsun.com

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