COMMENTARY: Mama Mia Maria (or Kilby's Apologist)
It was worth missing family time and TV comedies to witness Maria Mastrippolito, a member of the Cecil County Board of Appeals, as she fumbled, stumbled and mumbled her advocacy for her neighbor, mentor and gal-pal, former Cecil County Commissioner Phyllis Kilby, at Tuesday night’s (9/23/08) meeting of Cecil County Board of Appeals.
Ms. Maria would have astounded Gourmet or Bon Appetit magazines with her belabored culinary commentary on the differences between a restaurant and a deli, as part of her love-letter to Phyllis Kilby, who Ms. Maria indicated she believes is above county zoning laws.
Ms. Maria lives at 836 Firetower Rd., Colora, while Mrs. Kilby lives at 795 Firetower Rd. Ms. Maria bills herself as an educator, currently working in Delaware. She was appointed as Phyllis Kilby’s protégé to the Board of Appeals but it did not sit well with a minority of other commissioners. On 8/19/03, Ms. Maria was appointed by Mrs. Kilby to the Board of Appeals on a 3-2 vote; she was re-appointed on 7/18/06 on Mrs. Kilby’s nomination.
The issue at the Board of Appeals Tuesday was whether Mrs. Kilby was improperly operating a restaurant in the NAR zone and should obtain a required zoning special exception. Ms. Maria insisted that our Princess of Agriculture shouldn’t be questioned and a facility serving ice cream, soup, salads and sandwiches wasn’t really a restaurant.
Like angels on the head of a pin, Ms. Maria tried to define a restaurant on the Kilby property as something else: “I think it’s like a deli. A deli isn’t a restaurant, is it?” Ms Maria inquired. Mrs. Kilby testified that she imported food and ingredients for salads, soups and sandwiches and wraps from outside her farm. The zoning permit for Kilby’s farm, operating under the name “Kilby Cream,” requires that 51 percent of products sold to the public must be produced from farm products produced on that property. (Products sold include tuna and shrimp salads and sandwiches, which Mrs. Kilby admitted are not produced on her farm, or any other Cecil County farm.)
County zoning administrator Cliff Houston advised Ms. Maria that the Kilby property was a sit-down eating facility with tables, and did not conform with easier rules for carry-outs. He indicated the “deli” versus ‘restaurant’ argument had no basis in county law.
The case before the Board of Appeals stemmed from Houston’s investigation that concluded a restaurant was being operated on the Kilby premises, in violation of zoning laws.
But Ms. Maria dismissed the law and went on at some length about what is a deli, her personal experience in delis, her favorite deli foods, and how she believed the importation of food from outside the Kilby farm was fine with her because the Kilbys were such wonderful people.
Ms. Maria’s verbal guffaws drew some quiet laughter in the hearing room and she did not even merit a ‘second’ on her initial motion to relieve Phyllis Kilby of the need to state a real case at the county Planning Commission. But thanks to the intervention of Board Chairman David Willis, Ms. Maria’s rambling love note to Mrs. Kilby was re-instated and, by a 3-2 vote, condoned by the Board of Appeals.
Mrs. Kilby should be embarrassed by the verbal contortions of Ms. Maria as the best justification she can come up with.
But, as The Cecil Times will report subsequently, it is really all about the money—and taxpayer-provided money at that—for Mrs. Kilby.