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Ethics complaint filed against Historic Preservation Commissioner over proposed Elkridge subdivision

A developer seeking to build a subdivision in the Lawyers Hill area of Elkridge has filed an ethics complaint against a member of Howard County’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Don Reuwer, a local developer, has proposed building a subdivision of 17 single-family homes in the historic district located in Elkridge off Interstate 95. The project needs approval from the Department of Planning and Zoning and advisory comments from the commission. Reuwer would also need approval from the commission to build homes on the 8.76-acre property.

When Reuwer first went before the commission last April, he asked commissioner Drew Roth to recuse himself, citing his property’s proximity to the proposed development as a conflict of interest. Roth declined to do so.

The complaint Reuwer filed last week alleged that Roth has an “interest in the disposition of [the] case” and that he “has used the prestige of his office or public position for his own private gain.”

Roth declined to comment on the ethics complaint but wrote last week in an email that he “seriously considered the matter and consulted the office of law and determined that it was not necessary for me to recuse myself.”

“I have no financial interest in the project and no personal interest other than my normal interest in preserving the history of Howard County,” he added.

County law requires at least two members of the commission to live in historic Ellicott City and Lawyers Hill.

Reuwer will next month go before the Historic Preservation Commission to present an updated plan on the proposed grading and trees now located on the wooded property. The meeting will take place in the George Howard Building on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

Before this meeting takes place, however, the County Council will vote on a bill that will expand the oversight of the commission on cases like Reuwer’s. If the bill becomes law before the case is approved by the Department of Planning and Zoning, Reuwer’s proposal would become subject to the approval of the commission. The council will vote on the bill Monday, Feb. 4.

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