WorldNetDaily | July 10, 2005
A judge in Maryland is threatening jail time for county planners if they don't approve a 254-townhouse project in a badly congested region, despite a shortage of water and a petition signed by 600 residents.
"What is the point of having commissioners if the county is going to be run by lawyers and judges?" Carroll County Commissioner Dean Minnich told the Baltimore Sun. "All the decisions at this level of the courts seem to be pro-development."
According to the paper, the planning commission rejected the Eldersburg project last year, citing inadequate facilities in South Carroll, whose population has nearly tripled since 1980.
But Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway agreed with developers that a previous ruling from six years ago was still valid, and on June 30, he ordered commissioners to OK the site plan for the rental complex in the county's most populous and fastest-growing area.
Benjamin Rosenberg, attorney for the developer, the Carrolltowne Development Partnership, said he'd demand jail time for members of the planning commission – including County Commission president Julia Walsh Gouge – if officials did not comply with the judge's decision.
Local roads are reportedly congested, schools are surrounded by portable classrooms, and the water supply is so stretched, officials have cut back on development until new sources of H2O can be found.
"They will find water for this project," Rosenberg told the Sun. "The county should have reserved water for this project in 1995. If need be, it will have to take water allocated to another project."
The ruling is prompting an outcry from some local residents.
One posted reaction in an online messageboard, decrying the judge's ruling:
"The citizens of Carroll County be damned. A developer wants to make some bucks. It's simple, go to court and have the judges become the final word on what is best for the county. Judges are becoming too powerful in this country. Their ilk are strictly out of touch with what is good and right for society. In this case, they overstepped their authority and are attempting to become legislators. For the sake of their citizens, I hope the board will unanimously ignore the judges. Their is no one the judges can go to to enforce the ruling. All the bench warrants in the world are not going to have the board arrested. No one will lift a finger to jail the board."