Sykesville planning board may be abolished Mayor Clark cites lack of volunteers


Exasperated by a lack of volunteers, Mayor Kenneth W. Clark says he's about ready to abolish the Sykesville Planning Commission.

"If the Planning Commission becomes consistently unable to conduct its business, we would have to abolish it and add its work to the council's duties," the mayor told the Town Council on Monday.

"That would mean one more monthly meeting for which you would not be paid."

Although Maryland towns are not required to appoint planning commissions, most do, said Jonathan Magruder, staff associate for research with the Maryland Municipal League. He said he was unsure if a town could legally abolish a commission.

"The Maryland State Code speaks to creation of a planning commission but doesn't speak directly to the abolishment of one," he said.

The mayor said he wants the commission to continue its work but with its full complement: seven members.

On the first Monday of the month, the volunteer commission meets to review construction plans and make recommendations for the council's action.

Last week, with only two members in attendance, the commission fell short of its quorum requirement of four. Members could take no action on several agenda items.

"We had developers with projects in the works that involved a lot of money, and we had a crowd ready to comment," said Councilman Jonathan Herman, liaison to the commission. "Without a quorum, we couldn't do anything."

Vincent DiGiovanni's move away from town leaves one vacancy on the commission, Mr. Herman said. Scheduling conflicts with a job have kept another member away for several months, he said.

The commission is looking for volunteers to serve as alternates during members' absences.

"We are actively looking for people who want to get involved in town planning," said Mr. Herman. "It's an interesting and educational part of town government. If we get more volunteers, we can always use alternates."

The mayor asked council members to seek volunteers among neighbors and friends.

"I encourage you all to help find people to serve on the commission," he said. "Ask them to come out for the commission. I started out there and look what happened."

The Recreation and Parks Commission also "desperately needs volunteers," said Councilman William R. "Bill" Hall Jr., who serves as liaison to the six-member board, which meets on the third Monday of each month.

"Our numbers are dwindling, but we have a lot of projects," said Mr. Hall. "We need soldiers."

Nearly 250 people attended a Halloween hike through Cooper Park that the commission planned and staffed.

"We had a tremendous crowd and a great night," said Mr. Hall. "Fifteen students helped us as part of their community service project."

Without an active board, future projects may not meet with the same success, he said.

A recent resignation, a job transfer and an extended maternity leave have reduced the six-member board to three.

"Anybody can join us and be a working member," said Mr. Hall.

Members of the town Planning Commission and Recreation and Parks Commission must be residents of Sykesville.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad