Wolf quits land-use panel seat; Three-year tenure was marked by barbs, contention; 'I loved the one-liners'; Zoning appeals board position may be filled by alternate Tegeler


The Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals is losing its most outspoken member, Hobart D. "Hoby" Wolf, who announced his resignation yesterday.

In his nearly three-year tenure, the 75-year-old Eldersburg resident has added sarcasm and humor to the usually staid land-use panel, often interrupting testimony for an aside.

"I loved delivering the one-liners," said Wolf. "But lately I have been saying, 'Hi, neighbor,' more often than anything."

Potential conflict of interest and perceived offenses to the sensibilities of others played no role in his the resignation delivered to county commissioners yesterday, Wolf said. He pointed to the demands of business and family and asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration for reappointment. His term on the three-member board expires at the end of this month.

Wolf never shied from controversy. He often created it with his off-the-cuff remarks. Many of his zingers offended those opposed to his stances, which were frequently in favor of property owners and developers.

"None of the complaints came from anyone happy with my decision," Wolf once said.

At one point, during a hearing on the Promenade, a proposed $32 million shopping center slated for Route 32 in Eldersburg, Wolf said the only way to stop growth is "to make a sterility potion and dump it into Liberty Reservoir."

The barbs won him few laughs. Instead, they earned him a reprimand but no threat of dismissal from county commissioners, who said Wolf had done nothing to warrant removal from office.

"Hoby is very intelligent and very fair," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said yesterday after learning of Wolf's resignation. "He is one of a kind, a real individual and a friend."

Wolf's vote in favor of the Promenade was probably his most disputed, he said.

"We had people of better-than-average intelligence who knew how to publicize their fight opposing the project," Wolf said. "I tried to apply the law. I didn't care if the opponents were friends or enemies. Not one of my decisions was overturned by the courts."

Leaving the board will give him more time for his consulting business, which requires more overseas travel, Wolf said. He works with Kuwaiti companies on engineering projects and purchasing.

A pilot since his youth, Wolf plans to continue flying. His Oklahoma Road home faces his private airfield.

"At 75, I can still do a lot of things, but taking it easy I can't do," he said.

Wolf was appointed to the board in February 1997, to fill the term of James A. Zester Sr. Former County Commissioner Richard T. Yates, a longtime political ally, strongly supported his nomination.

The appointment drew the ire of slow-growth activists, particularly in South Carroll, the county's most populous area. Wolf owns one of the largest parcels of undeveloped land in South Carroll, about 70 acres about a mile north of Liberty Road.

He plans to continue his brand of political and community activism.

He volunteered to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee, which spent nearly two years formulating a growth plan for the area.

"One thing that hurt me really deeply was when they said I was trying to promote my property," Wolf said. "It is on the record that in every discussion I was neither for nor against development near my property."

Wolf said he will serve until the commissioners appoint a replacement. They might promote Harvey Tegeler, now serving as an alternate, to the board.

"I hope they get somebody who will be as fair as I have been," said Wolf.

Pub Date: 10/06/99

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