Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed Steven J. Arentz, the Republican president of the Queen Anne's County Board of Commissioners, to the House of Delegates Tuesday to fill a vacancy from the Upper Eastern Shore.
Arentz, 62, will replace Republican Stephen S. Hershey Jr., a former delegate who was appointed to the Senate to fill out the term of former Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin, who resigned over the summer and moved to Texas.
The appointment became automatic after Arentz won the support of three of the four county Republican central committees in the 36th District.
Arentz, who was elected in 2010 as part of a GOP sweep of the county commission, has been at the center of a controversy over the proposed construction of a 1,079-unit development on Kent Island known as the Four Seasons. Last month, he led a 3-2 majority of the board in approving an agreement with the developer, K. Hovnanian Homes, that removed any likely county obstacles to the construction.
Approval of a wetlands permit that would let construction proceed has been held up at the Board of Public Works while the board looks into the business relationship of its former wetlands administrator and a lawyer for the developer.
Arentz is a Realtor who was well-known as the former owner of Hemingway's Restaurant, a Kent Island landmark that overlooks the Bay Bridge.