June 11, 2012 1:56 pm ET
An excellent community turnout of the DunLogan Community Council greeted Bryan Sheppard, the county’s east side point man for constituent services on June 7th at the group’s meeting.
President Rhonda Crisp wasted no time in calling the meeting to order and putting Mr. Sheppard on, as cops used to say, “the hot seat.”
She did take a minute to read a letter from Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. explaining why he would not be attending the meeting. After reading the letter, the meeting began with Mr. Sheppard giving the members an update on some county businesss.
Then the main topics of the former property and the government center were discussed.
Before being grilled, as this retired cop would say, Sheppard announced some ominous news referring to the county’s bare bones budget with restrictions on capitol projects.
He did stress Mr. Kamenetz’s priorities would be education, public safety and public services. Mr. Sheppard said there would be no reduction of services and the county is learning to do more with less. He referred to the lowest number of county employees in 25 years to meet the demands in providing theses necessary services. He also mentioned the new online police reporting system for non-emergency calls not requiring the services of a police officer.
Mr. Sheppard announced that the Navy’s famed Blue Angels would be featured at Martin State Airport on June 16-17. Check Patch calendars for details.
Mrs. Crisp then opened the floor to questions on the two main topics of the agenda. She ran a tight ship, as they say, by keeping the talking limited to one person and not wavering from the topic, although one question on the DRC was defused even though the letters in question dealt with the agenda.
The questions came fast and furious, as they say, and Mr. Sheppard did his best to answer them. In a nut shell (not referring to this blogger), generally speaking the questions being asked were very informative and the people asking them were quite knowledgeable. The who, what, why, when and where were the questions of the night.
Mr. Sheppard said Mr. Vontran approached the county with his plan to swap the two properties and build a new government center and senior housing on the land.
“The county will listen to anybody,” Mr. Sheppard said. This response dealt with Mr. Vontran’s financial problems brought up in a question from the floor. Mr. Sheppard said that the question of the government center being in the potential mix is based on the county’s surplus land issue.
The county has taken no action on Vontran’s ideas, Mr. Sheppard said. (Does the zoning request count?)
No required studies have been done by either Mr. Vontran or the county pending the demolition of the Seagram’s buildings. This would include Maryland Department of Environmental Protection requirements.
Mr. Sheppard said the county executive has no say in the zoning request as this falls under Councilman Olszewski’s domain and of course the final decision on the issue will be voted on by the council in September. When pushed further, Mr. Sheppard said the final say on the swap and development issue would lie with Mr. Kamenetz.
One rousing moment came when John Long, president of Clean Bread and Cheese Creek questioned the entire process of Mr. Vontran’s proposal and at the end there was a loud chorus of “Amen!” followed by a round of applause. (We were in a church.)
Even this blogger got chance to ask a question. I asked Mr. Sheppard if he was aware of the county’s settlement agreement (a contract signed with developers) and how this might impact Mr. Vontran’s qualifications to do business with the county. He said he was not aware of the document so I’ll post it for his information.
Finally, the entire group wanted to make sure Mr. Sheppard took their objections to the zoning board and the project back to Mr. Kamenetz’s office and he said he would.