Tuesday, April 26, 2016

MoCo planning commissioner a "bull out of the gate" on behalf of Westbard developers, internal email shows

Willett Branch stream
Citizen activists are going through whatever Westbard sector plan-related emails they've been able to get their hands on so far, and a first batch has been posted on a new website, The Westbard Papers. A pair that stand out relate to Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson's energetic effort on behalf of development interests throughout the Westbard planning process.

Anderson apparently had a private meeting with developer Equity One on Friday, September 11, 2015. Now, while planning staff are known to meet privately with developers, actual planning commissioners should not be doing so. Commisioners, including the chair, are supposed to consider the plan after it has been developed by planning staff, who have incorporated public input from all stakeholders. Then they cast the ultimate vote to approve or reject the plan. To be engaging directly with developers, or attempting to shape the outcome from the beginning, is not only inappropriate, but is also usurping the role of the professional Planning Director.

A little over a month later, a Parks Department employee complains to a colleague that Planning Board commissioner Norman Dreyfuss - despite Anderson having promised her the chance to make her case for the naturalization of Willett Branch stream - has instead begun the worksession "like a bull out of the gate ready to pounce" on behalf of (guess who?) Equity One.

"So obviously teed up by EO [Equity One]...meeting with him to say that this greenway will destroy their ability to develop," Montgomery Parks Senior Planner Susanne Paul writes to a colleague during the session.

I recall that worksession, where the topic of the viability of the naturalization project seemed to come out of nowhere. It will be interesting to see what more can be revealed about private meetings with planning commissioners, who put on a face to residents during the process as if they were hearing all of this for the first time.

I'm sure activists and residents supporting the Willett Branch proposal would like to know how much any private meetings played a role in the project now "fading as a priority," in the words of County Council President Nancy Floreen.

What happened to ex parte communications guidelines? I don't recall Anderson, Dreyfuss, or any other commissioner publicly announcing any disclaimer about having met offline with developers.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does it say in the rules the commissioner is not allowed to meet with developers?

Does it say in the rules the commissioner has to wait until they receive the draft plan from the planning staff before they can talk to anyone or provide input?

Anonymous said...

"To be engaging directly with developers, or attempting to shape the outcome from the beginning, is not only inappropriate, but is also usurping the role of the professional Planning Director."

Does it say this anywhere in the rules?

Anonymous said...

Show me anywhere it says that anything done was illegal and I'll happily support your case.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money...

Anonymous said...

Dyer is so wrong about commissioner meetings with developers. Happens ALL the time.

Anonymous said...

"Now, while planning staff are known to meet privately with developers, actual planning commissioners should not be doing so." - Robert Dyer

Says who? Is there a law or rule or anything that says they are not allowed to do so?

Anonymous said...

Wtf are you talking about, Dyer? Of course Planning Board members are very actively and directly involved in the sector plan and master plan drafting process. This is obvious to anyone who even marginally follows the process.

Anonymous said...

Robert just proved how completely ignorant he is. What a raving nut.

Robert said...

Kudos to the planning director. I would hope more planning directors would get involved earlier than simply waiting for a draft plan to kick back to the staff. Glad to hear the planning director is trying to be more effective and efficient than a standard process.

Anonymous said...

"The Planning Board should have absolutely no role in developing a Master Plan until they vote to adopt it," saith Dyer.

Anonymous said...

What about the Open Meetings Act? Does a planning commissioner meeting privately with a developer fall under this act?

Anonymous said...

More evidence the Planning Board should be abolished. Keep Planning Staff. No need for a Board that just undermines the professional staff. Huge waste of money and time.

Anonymous said...

Dyer clearly knows nothing about the process of large developments. It is not only appropriate, but necessary for developers to have meetings with county planners. With large, complex projects it's a crucial part of developing the plan. Birdbrain

Anonymous said...

Private meetings?

Anonymous said...

So now the NIMBY nuts (and their cult-leader blogger) have resorted to making up a scandal when there is none. They are steadily losing whatever credibility they had left.

Does Dyer realize Norman Dreyfuss is a Republican like him? In fact, these anti-developer rants starkly contrast with the pro-private enterprise Republican platform.

It's ironic how Dyer is so adamant that the Planning Commission should be some Soviet-Style Politburo stymieing free-market enterprise.

Anonymous said...

8:42 And who do you work for?

Anonymous said...

Asinine ideas aren't limited to one party. Both Republicans and Democrats can make fools of themselves, Libertarians and Green Party folks too.

Anonymous said...

8:47: An excellent question.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

9:15: Even "funnier", the very high number of tax paying property owning citizens upset throughout MoCo in this rapid and corrupt "development" debaucle.

Anonymous said...

Those taxpayers pay taxes on their OWN property. Not on the properties in question

Anonymous said...

Trollspeak: "seniors", "asphalt", "AARP", "NIMBY", "storage facility", "gas stations", "white hair", "dump", "moribund economy", "vibrant nightlife".

9:15: Who do you represent? Who are you working for? Do tell.

Robert Dyer said...

7:23: No, you in your multiple comments proved how completely ignorant YOU are about the rules. A planning commissioner or chair who had met privately with a developer with business before the commission MUST disclose he or she did so at the outset of the next commission meeting. None of the commissioners did so to my knowledge, meaning they violated ex parte communication rules. Sounds like you're the "raving nut" who needs to do his homework.

Anonymous said...

9:15 AM - Dyer can't even cover his own favorite subject in a timely manner. What a loser.

Anonymous said...

9:34: At this point it's not clear where our high taxes are being distributed, but, um, we know we pay them that's for sure. Pretty sure they're not going where they're supposed to such as schools and roads.

Anonymous said...

What's the difference between @ 8:47 AM and a toilet?

A: A toilet doesn't follow you around whining endlessly after you use it

Anonymous said...

Ad hominem:
When you have nothing to say about the subject, insult the writer.

Anonymous said...

8:47 here. 9:42 I don;t know what your problem is, but you have to reason to insult me for asking a question.
Tell you what you little spineless asshat that has to hide behind a computer screen, let me give you the opportunity to say it to my face.
Time and place. In uniform or not.

Anonymous said...

9:42: Time for your meds now c'mon.

Anonymous said...

"Who do you represent? Who are you working for? Do tell."

What a paranoid moron.

Anonymous said...

All this writer does is insult without having any basis for anything he says. So yeah.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:52 AM - And you're an anonymous tough guy on the Internet.

LOL, what a pussy.

Andrea Li said...

"7:23: No, you in your multiple comments proved how completely ignorant YOU are about the rules. A planning commissioner or chair who had met privately with a developer with business before the commission MUST disclose he or she did so at the outset of the next commission meeting. None of the commissioners did so to my knowledge, meaning they violated ex parte communication rules. Sounds like you're the "raving nut" who needs to do his homework."

Can you explain to us simpletons where in the rules it says the planning commissioner must disxlose a private developer meeting prior to the next meeting? If it is true I agree there could be a problem, but where does it say they have to do that?

Anonymous said...

9:56: Interesting since there's lots of "paranoid morons" who know about the paid trolls, bloggers and others feeding off the government teat. The trolling and related will indeed be part of the story, might be the most interesting part.

Anonymous said...

9:52 here. Really, you want to rail on me? I originally asked a question. That's it. And for that I need to be insulted? Why single me out? I don't want to tolerate being unjustifiably maligned, do you?

I'm not a mean person. Just serious and ain't with the trolling BS.

Anonymous said...

10:01: Pot. Kettle. Black.

Anonymous said...

After the way the NIMBYs treated Berliner this morning, I hope that he votes for maximum height and density, just out of sheer spite.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are refering to Chapter 3 section 2 of the rules of procedure of the Montgomery County Planning board. My reading of that section is that it applies only to the time that an "Application" is pending. Master plan changes aren't included in the definition of an "Application", so he isn't bound to follow them.

You can search for "Montgomery county planning board rules of procedure" and read the whole document.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Councilmember Berliner should have been allowed to speak at today's Westbard rally. Best to be respectful.

On other points:

-If the members of Montgomery County government aren't subject to ex parte rules, that's something that needs to be changed.

-It has been clear that the County Council, the Planning Board and the Planning Department undertook the Westbard sector plan revision with the intent of satisfying Equity One and, as the process evolved, Capitol Properties. Citizens' preferences were given short shrift.

-The Montgomery County planning process is broken. County officials and developers get seats at the table, but citizens do not. There used to be a Citizens Advisory Board that had authority to work with developers to create compromise concerning proposed development. The Citizens Advisory Board-- or something like it-- should be reinstated.

Robert Dyer said...

12:30: Equity One does have a specific project that has been shown, and will be considered by the Board likely within the next year. That is a pending application. Capital Properties has one, also.

Robert Dyer said...

7:59: County planners, yes. Planning commissioners, no.

Robert Dyer said...

12:37: Excellent points. I would add restoring the position of People's Counsel, and creation of ANC entities (as DC has) with a planning role to the list.

Robert Dyer said...

9:34: Wrong - taxpayers will be picking up the tab for many of the costs associated with private developer profit at Westbard. Schools, services, parks, stream restoration, pedestrian and bike facilities. Wake up and smell the structural deficit and tax hikes in the FY17 budget.

Andrea Li said...

Dyer I understand you ask a lot of great questions to the council and such, but why don't you answer any questions asked to you? It would help is better understand your points.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 1:00 PM -

Are you saying that none of the up to 3,500 new residents will be taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

3.2.2.
Planning Board’s Obligation to Avoid Improper Contacts
. When considering
any matter decided under these Rules, the
Planning Board deals with Persons who
are directly affected by it
s decision (such as the A
pplicant and neighbors of a
proposed subdivision site). Each of these interested Persons needs the assurance
that other interested Persons will not have
an unfair advantage in presenting their
version of the relevant facts or concer
ns to the Board. To that end, Board
members must avoid communicating with A
pplicants or any other Persons about
a pending Application except at Board
meetings when the Application is
considered. The Planning Director must
regularly publish a roster of pending
Applications in appropria
te detail to avoid viola
tions of this Rule.

Robert Dyer said...

3:15: That's at least one of the statutes the private meetings - with the lack of public disclosure - violated.

2:23: George Leventhal himself admitted last month what I've pointed out all along - the taxes those new residents will pay WILL NOT cover the costs they generate for the County (a.k.a. the taxpayers). So new residential development of this density is a net loss of revenue.

Anonymous said...

Beerghazi, meet Bulloutofthegategate!

Andrea Li said...

3:15, thanks for posting that. Where can I find the full document? Has Equity One already submitted an application?

Anonymous said...

And Robert Dyer once again exits without answering any of the tough questions.

Robert Dyer said...

5:25: How so?

Anonymous said...

So Robert at 12:51, is a pending application applicable to only applications that have been filed or anything at all even if it hasn't yet been filed? Cause the latter would include anything and everything under the sun.

Anonymous said...

#dodgingdyer is his new campaign slogan.

Anonymous said...

Yup and dyer has exited the building. He acts like he is different and better and then doesn't follow through or care to follow up. That's a politician for you!

#dodgingdyer