Anne Arundel hearings officer rehired, Pittman makes county leadership appointments

Chase Cook
Contact Reporterccook@capgaznews.com

Anne Arundel County Executive-elect Steuart Pittman announced Tuesday that he will bring back former administrative hearings officer Doug Hollmann, who said he was fired by County Executive Steve Schuh because he granted too many variance requests to medical marijuana dispensaries.

Pittman revealed Hollman’s return as part of announcing other appointments to high-level county positions. Hollmann worked for the county as the administrative hearings officer until February, when he was removed from his position.

Schuh never discussed specifics of Hollmann’s removal — nor would he confirm he was fired. Hollmann’s departure was revealed the same day the county announced legislation that would prohibit granting variances to medical marijuana projects.

Pittman disagreed with Hollmann’s departure while he was campaigning for county executive. The administrative hearings officer oversees variance requests, zoning reclassifications and special exceptions.

“He is one of the few people who is respected by both environmental advocates and development interests,” Pittman said. “He has been in this job a long time.

“Throughout his career, Mr. Hollmann has earned a reputation for being thoughtful and fair. I’m pleased to welcome him back to county service.”

Hollmann was working in his private law practice when he got the call from Pittman. He said it was a surprise since he didn’t know Pittman was thinking of rehiring him. Hollmann served as administrative hearings officer from 2008 until his removal in February.

“I would have stayed if Steve hadn’t told me to go,” Hollmann said. “I found myself saying to Steuart Pittman, as surprising as this is, ‘I have to do a 180 on this.’ It didn’t take me very long [to say] that I would like to go in and do it.”

Schuh replaced Hollmann with former county attorney Jonathan Hodgson, who had served under John Leopold.

Hollmann’s departure was linked to a long debate by county government officials handling the legalization of medical marijuana. Schuh’s administration wanted to prevent medical marijuana facilities opening in the county. A compromise between Schuh and the County Council created some of the strictest requirements for medical marijuana projects.

Those requirements were reduced after business owners complained it was almost impossible to find a site that met all of the county’s requirements and avoid a variance. Variances are requests by developers and homeowners to bypass some county rules they claim are onerous.

Pittman also announced other appointments:

  • Gregory Swain will serve as acting county attorney. He is currently a supervising county attorney within the county Office of Law. Pittman’s administration will search for a permanent replacement, according to the news release.
  • Janice Hayes-Williams will work as senior adviser for community engagement. She is a local historian who currently works as head of Constituent Services for Annapolis. She also will oversee appointments to boards and commissions.
  • Pittman’s campaign manager Pete Baron will serve as government affairs officer. Baron has experience in Maryland local and state government. He has worked for the Maryland House of Delegates Speaker of the House, Maryland Hospital Association and Service Employees International Union, Maryland and DC State Council.
  • Brandi Francis will work as the acting public information officer. She currently works as director of communications for the county Department of Aging.
  • James Kitchin and Jenese Jones will serve as constituent services officers. Kitchin is a public policy doctoral student at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and ran for County Council District 7. Jones is the executive director of Faith Leaders for Excellent Schools. She was a candidate for delegate in District 32.

None of the announced positions require council approval at this time. Acting department heads can serve for 60 days without Council approval. Council then can approve another four months of service.

There will be an inauguration ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Pittman will take the oath of office at the event. Tickets can be obtained online at www.pittmantransition.com/inauguration.

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