In an effort to ensure checks and balances are in place during the master plan process, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners has decided to restructure the Department of Land Use, Planning and Development.
The department will be split into two groups, with the bureaus of Development Review, Agriculture Land Preservation, Zoning Administration and Resource Management under one director and the Bureau of Comprehensive Planning under a second. This change will take effect June 1.
The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, voting against the motion entered by Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2.
The master plan process includes not only the development of the plan, which was adopted by the board in February, but also its implementation through zoning revision, Rothschild said, and the commissioners' "need to be careful we don't disrupt that."
"Zoning will make a huge difference for the county, and I think that there is momentum to protect Carroll and I don't want to make changes that could disrupt that," he said.
Rothschild said his concern is that Weaver's motion will place an unqualified person as the Planning and Zoning Commission secretary. Currently, Phil Hager, director of the department, acts in that capacity and it isn't clear whether Hager will continue in the role.
County Attorney Tim Burke said state law requires such a position, but outlines no specific process for appointing someone to the post.
"Since I've been here, it's just been assumed the planning director [would be the secretary], but it's not a requirement," Burke said. "There is no mandate saying [the commissioners] need to appoint a certain person."
The secretary's duties include mostly administrative tasks, such as creating agendas, keeping records of meeting minutes, and other assignments determined by the planing commission.
During the master plan's development and public review period, many people said they were concerned the master plan's redesignation of some agricultural land to very low density residential would allow landowners to argue for a change in land character that would possibly allow for increased development, Rothschild said.
Rothschild said he was approached by Hager, who recommended the commissioners carry through with the redesignations because, as part of the document, they would become the vision of the county's development — thus lessening the chances of landowners being able to secure zoning changes for their land in the future.
Hager said he would prefer not to comment until the commissioners make a decision concerning who will be appointed to the secretary position.
Weaver said the restructuring will ensure the same people are not responsible for both the development and implementation of the county's master plans. Instead, the two groups will work together so it won't be "one person or group dictating everything," he said.
"In the process of going through the master plan, the more people we have involved in it [and] changing zoning, the better off we are to keep the balance of agriculture and development [in Carroll]," Weaver said. "Putting the [four] departments together streamlines the process."
Prior to the vote, Rothschild suggested an alternative that would have placed the bureaus of Comprehensive Planning, Development Review and Zoning Administration under one director and Resource Management and Ag Land Preservation under a second, but did not enter it as a motion after the other commissioners failed to lend even tacit support.
Carroll County Breaking News
Commissioners designate economic development director titles
The Carroll County Board of Commissioners has voted to rename the Department of Economic Development's two administrator titles to better identify each person's role.
Jack Lyburn, who is the administrator of strategic accounts and outreach, will now be known as the director of Economic Development, and Jonathan Weetman, who is the administrator of operations and small business development, will be called the director of workforce and entrepreneurship. Lyburn will also be responsible for attracting and promoting large business accounts in the county.
This change in title would bring a $10,000 pay increase for Weetman, as he was not hired at the director pay rate, while Lyburn was hired as a director.
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, suggested they rename Lyburn as the director of strategic account capture, but commissioners Doug Howard, R-District 5, and Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said it was important to have someone as the director of economic development when interacting with their counterparts from other jurisdictions.
"The label put on the director of Economic Development is important and needs to be clear," Wantz said.
The title changes will go into effect June 1.