March 22, 2015 12:04 pm ET
County Destroys “Field of Dreams” – Residents Blindsided by Decision
Source: Stealing Home (Field)
As reported in the Dundalk Eagle, the County swooped in, unannounced, and demolished the playground at Eastwood Elementary School.
To say that this action has upset residents would be like saying the Grand Canyon is a little hole in the ground. It doesn’t even come close to being accurate.
The question I have about this robbery of the community’s “field of dreams” is how this could happen when, under the law regarding the PUD process (for the sale of the North Point Government Center), this violates the County Charter in a variety of ways.
This was not just a bad call on the part of Baltimore County—this was a direct slap in the face of every resident of the 7th District. And, in my opinion, this move requires an investigation by those who have the authority to conduct such a hearing. And I’m referring to the whole ball of wax, such as issuing subpoenas, conducting ethics investigations, and even recommending criminal charges, if warranted.
Queries on this entire process could be brought by the Councilman, the County Administrator, the Ethics Commission, the County Auditor, the State’s Attorney, and even the County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz.
So, to stay with the baseball vernacular, who’s ready to step up to the plate?
I remain very confused how this could happen before the PUD is finalized by an administrative judge?
Then again, it seems this whole process was a “done deal,” which means no one was going to stop it.
Now, let’s see what this deal has meant so far:
• The closing of one of the finest schools on the East Side
• The moving of numerous county agencies
• An untold loss of taxpayer funds.
Can someone please tell me why one of the key reasons for this mess in the first place was to raise money to offset the cost of putting air conditioning in our schools while, in fact, it has done neither? One estimated loss was put at roughly over $20 million. It’s anybody’s guess now.
Now to the nitty-gritty of the law (or the lawless, if you will) taken from the County code.
Rather than go through the whole code on the law looking for the legalities of “killing dreams” (excuse me, did I write that?), let’s view the portions of the law regarding the PUD.
First we have the following:
(2) Post-submission community meeting. A post-submission community meeting shall be held as follows:
(i) The post-submission community meeting shall be held no earlier than 21 days and no later than 30 days after the filing of a PUD application. The applicant shall provide three weeks advance notice regarding the date, time, and location of the post-submission community meeting by the posting of a sign on the subject property in the same manner as required by § 32-4-217(b) of this subtitle. Written notice shall be mailed to:
1. All adjoining property owners as identified in the records of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation; and
2. Any community associations or civic organizations that represent the geographic area of the subject property or any adjoining properties.
(ii) At the post-submission community meeting, the applicant shall:
1. Make available the Planned Unit Development submission that was presented to the County Council member
My response: what was “sure as hell” before isn’t what it is now. So the answer for all of the above is – NOPE!
Last time I checked with my mailman, he didn’t have any submissions for me, and I’m in the right ZIP code.
To be sure, I talked to Bob Staab from Dundalk United, and he hasn’t seen any plans, notes, scribblings, or chitchat from the developers either.
Now here is another good part of the PUD law:
4. Compile comprehensive minutes of the meeting, which shall be forwarded to the Council member and to the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections and posted by the Department on the county’s internet website.
Again, I spoke to Mr. Staab, and he said that the first two and a half hour meetings held at the school equaled less than a quarter page of those “comprehensive” notes.
Maybe they wrote in shorthand? As is “an extremely short hand holding a pen with no ink.”
Now, as to the Councilman being in possession of these notes, I may be wrong, but I don’t think he has a copy either. If I am wrong, he can feel free to correct me.
Here’s another good one:
(iv) At the discretion of the Council member, another post-submission community meeting may be required.
As I stated before, this particular PUD process has morphed into a situation where Councilman Crandell hasn’t called for another community meeting to discuss the changes.
Speaking of the Councilman, here is what Mr. Crandell has on his “Friends of Todd Crandell” Facebook site:
Friends of Todd Crandell
August 21, 2014 •
As I stated in my testimony to the County Council weeks ago, the legal process of Planned Unit Development (the process used to sell the Government Center) needs a thorough review and as Councilman I will call for such a review.
Did I miss it, or did maybe Mr. Crandell forget about his campaign pledge? Because I have not heard or read anything about a “thorough review” since Mr. Crandell has been elected. In fact, the above entry—along with one more—is all I could find on the issue he made paramount during his campaign.
On Councilman Crandell’s Facebook page, I went all the way back to 7/23/14 and did not find one entry on the Government Center.
You read, you decide.
And while you are deciding, maybe you can file a report about a missing playground. Just don’t expect many in the County government to be too concerned.