Letter from Matt Seubert to the County Council regarding the Monrovia Town Center

EDITORS NOTE: Matt wrote this letter to the county council members before the council meeting on Tuesday, June 16th, at which it was expected that the council would decide what action to take “in connection with the Frederick Area Committee for Transportation (FACT) Correspondence regarding the Monrovia Town Center,” after a public hearing on the matter a week earlier, on Tuesday, June 9th. After some discussion and debate among the council members, the council decided to postpone the vote until its next meeting, on Tuesday, June 30th. You can read the Frederick News Post article about the Tuesday discussion here.


countycouncil150616_500w

Dear Council Members,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you last Tuesday night. I would like to follow up with a few points/comments in advance of your vote on the MTC remand this afternoon.

Mr. Payne made a very impassioned speech last Tuesday. He emphasized the word “predictability” with respect to land use as an argument for ignoring the FACT letter and instead have you rely on the current record to grant approval of the project. He also stressed that he and Mr. Stanley complied with all relevant laws.

I empathize with Mr. Payne and Mr. Stanley. But these arguments don’t stand-up to the record.

Michele Rosenfeld sent a supplemental letter to all of you last week which, in my opinion, factually demonstrates a coordinated attempt by Blaine Young and certain other members of the BoCC and planning staff to defraud the citizens of a fair and impartial approval process. Indeed, it shows that many laws were not followed. And we shouldn’t forget the half-way attempt by the Young BoCC to amend the 2010 comp plan by re-drawing the zoning maps. By law and their own admission, the BoCC was required to update the corresponding text of the comp plan. They failed to do so, so by law the application was invalid.

I also disagree with Mr. Payne’s assertion that the land was unfairly down zoned. The 2010 comp plan assigned the prudent designation of agriculture for the parcels since it was obvious the area cannot support the development. The record is full of evidence and arguments that made this abundantly clear to everyone except the 4 members of the BoCC and Blaine’s hand-picked planning commission that approved it.

Mr. Payne should have predicted the citizen outcry when he and Mr. Stanley did not hold a duly advertised or conducted community meeting. In my opinion, their counsel fabricated for the record the story of hosting 30 citizens in the storage shed at the drag strip. That’s just not plausible. I think they knew the project would be scrutinized by the community, so they denied the area residents lawfully required due process right from the start. A community meeting may have seemed inconsequential to them and the BoCC, but it mattered to the residents. It is the very first thing that developers are required by law to do. Instead it was regarded as an inconvenience that was summarily accepted. Had they engaged the citizens at the outset, they could have possibly avoided much of the conflict surrounding the project – saving time and money for themselves and the residents.

Mr. Payne should have also predicted that the enormous sums of campaign money that he and Stanley funneled to Blaine and 3 other members of the BoCC would lead to their bad judgement, which ultimately culminated in the FACT letter. These 4 BoCC members became wholly vested in seeing the project approved to the bitter end, regardless of right or wrong. Mr. Payne could have predicted the political fall-out from this conflict of interest that he and Mr. Stanley created with the BoCC. They were all in over their heads.

I feel very strongly that Blaine was involved with the creation of the FACT letter. I seriously doubt he would have introduced it solely at Paul Smith’s behest without prior knowledge of it. The common perception, at least among rational people, is that Blaine controlled every aspect and detail of the hearings. This perception, coupled with the potential of perjurious statements contained in Blaine’s affidavit should compel you should give no reliance to it whatsoever. And given the absence of an affidavit or further testimony from Paul Smith, the only logical course of action is to review the record for yourselves.

These are but a few examples of the impropriety surrounding this case – many more exist in the record. If you add them all up, it seems clear that the approval process started with a lie (the community meeting), ended with lie (the FACT letter), and failed to follow the law. Again, I implore you to re-open the case in its entirety.

Sincerely,

Matt Seubert
Urbana