Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond is questioning why County Executive Kevin Kamenetz hasn't spoken out about a local referendum campaign linked to developers.
The petition drive, which seeks to put zoning decisions in Almond's and Councilwoman Cathy Bevins' districts on the 2014 ballot, has ties to politically connected developers Howard Brown and the Cordish Cos. Both developers are unhappy with decisions the councilwomen made in the recent zoning process.
Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat, said this week the developers are trying to manipulate the system, and she feels Kamenetz needs to speak out because the referendum drive has implications for the county's planning process.
"This is not just about Cathy and I," Almond said. "This is about Baltimore County and economic development going forward. If people want to do business in Baltimore County going forward, are they going have to ask David Cordish and Howard Brown if it's okay?"
Kamenetz chief of staff Don Mohler said it would be "premature" for Kamenetz to weigh in because it remains to be seen whether the issue will even be on the ballot.
"He signed the bills once they were passed, indicating that he thought the council did their due diligence," Mohler said. "At this time, he's just going to refrain from commenting … Let's see what happens. He's not somebody that jumps to conclusions."
Representatives for Brown and Cordish haven't responded to requests seeking comment.
A referendum drive to overturn zoning decisions is unprecedented in the county. The Committee for Zoning Integrity – which is linked to Brown – is promoting the petition drive. The committee's website (www.fixthemaps.com) claims that signing the petitions would lead to "less prioritization for the concerns of special interests and developers…"
Almond called the developers' tactics "rather appalling."
"I'm angry because I think what they're trying to do the process and to the system is wrong," Almond said.