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Cecil County Twilight Zone: Broomell Rants Over Court Settlement’s Reversal of Amigos 2011 Zoning Coup

June 5, 2013
By Nancy Schwerzler

To settle a lengthy and costly court case, Cecil County will reverse a 2011 decision by the old “Three Amigos” faction of the County Commissioners board to strip a Perryville property of its heavy industry zoning and downgrade it to the most restrictive agricultural designation. But Councilor Diana Broomell, who led the downzoning effort, lashed out Tuesday, attacking the County Council President, local ‘tea party’ activists and just about anyone in earshot.

The county government has already spent more than $5,600 on legal fees in the case, according to county officials, and a memo calculated potential additional county legal bills of $45,000 if the case went to trial as scheduled on 7/15/13, and a likely appeal of any Circuit Court decision. Settling the case now would save those costs. And the settlement would restore the status quo of the property, located on Carpenters Point road in Perryville, to the same as it was before the Amigos downzoned it on their own initiative.

But Broomell (R-4) did not go down without a fight, reading a statement at both a morning worksession and evening Council meeting in Elkton attacking the settlement of the court case. And she played to an evening crowd of cheering Carpenters Point residents who supported her downzoning effort and opposed settling the lawsuit, which was filed against the county by York Building Products, Inc. in 2011.

“The reason we’re doing this now, in my opinion, is we’re close to a trial date and the judge…gave every indication,” Broomell declared, that he would “probably rule in our favor” and sustain the downzoning. To settle the case now shows that “if you go against a company with deep enough pockets you can ignore the integrity of the process.”

Rhetoric aside, the history of the property’s handling by the county indicates there was a last-minute move by the Three Amigos then-majority of the Commissioners to impose its own agenda on the site, contrary to the findings of both the 40+ member citizen-led Comprehensive Plan Review panel and the county’s Planning Commission.

The property, located on Carpenters Point Road in Perryville, was previously zoned M2, or heavy industrial, and that designation was approved by the Planning Commission as part of the countywide comprehensive rezoning. The property’s owners had requested MEA, a mineral extraction designation, for part of the land but that request was rejected by the Planning Commission at its 2/9/11 meeting, according to meeting minutes. As a result, the land would have retained its M2 zoning designation.

But the County Commissioners, led by Broomell and other members of the “Three Amigos” faction, suddenly decided on 4/19/11 to overrule the Planning Commission and impose a NAR (Northern Agricultural) designation, which is normally reserved for farmland in the most rural and remote areas of the northern county. There had been no advance hearings or planning staff rationales for such a significant downzoning of the industrial land to farmland status.

Broomell has often called herself a champion of private property rights, especially in dealing with state environmental mandates imposed on the counties. How she reconciles that view with her position on the NAR downzoning for the York site was unmentioned in her verbal assaults on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, as she warmed to her topic, Broomell raised her voice and declared, “We have to remember who we are representing…it’s not just ourselves or those who fund our campaigns.”

As some Carpenters Point residents applauded, but some members of the pro-property rights Cecil County Patriots registered disagreement, Broomell went into high voltage:

“The Patriots are frauds, they are not a tea party group,” she asserted. Hodge hit his gavel and said, “hold it, hold it, time out.”

But Broomell would not go willingly to the time-out chair, and shouted: “This is my comment section and I’ve got an audience and I’m not missing this opportunity.”

“Point of order, Mr. President,” Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey (R-2) interjected sternly.

“They are working with the special interests of Robert Hodge,” Broomell said of the Patriots. Hodge had voted against the downzoning of the York land.

Hodge chose not to respond, saying the meeting had lasted long enough.

Rants and raves aside, under the court settlement, York would not be allowed to engage in mineral extraction under its old M2 zoning. Instead, the landowners would have to apply to the Planning Commission for an MEB “overlay” and also seek a “special exception” to do so, a process that would involve public hearings and a lengthy review process. The planning panel previously rejected a bid for mineral extraction on the site.

The Council is expected to vote on the resolution to implement the court settlement in two weeks.

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5 Responses to Cecil County Twilight Zone: Broomell Rants Over Court Settlement’s Reversal of Amigos 2011 Zoning Coup

  1. Ron on June 6, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Broomell, who appeared to be having a … breakdown, may have neglected to mention political contributions that were made to her by Carpenters Point residents. Also, if I remember correctly, on January 3, 2011, Broomell and Mullin, during a commissioners meeting, brought up the subject of personal attacks by citizens and how they must stop.

    She needs to understand that in order to gain someone’s respect, you must practice what you preach. I contend now, as I have in the past, that Broomell is an embarrassment to the county and the end of her political career cannot come soon enough.

  2. Harriet S on June 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

    It appears to me that our County Council member Broomell should be referred thru the Employee Assistance Program to get some … assistance. She is like a child who has temper tantrums each time she doesn’t get what she wants and is obsessed at stirring up the citizens of this county.

    After several years of observing her behavior, there is no doubt that not only does she have anger issues which she obviously cannot control, but she is consistently the cause of dissention among the group of 5. Her rants are unproductive not only for the council but for the citizaens of the county.

    How embarassing it is to have such an individual governing in this county. 2014 can’t come soon enough and hopefully the candidates opposing her are objective and more rational.

  3. Joe C on June 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    No worries just as I predicted the traffic study has already started. The rubber hoses are all over Carpenters Point roads. It is just another “production” by Moore. Very interesting that she is all worried about the Pearce Creek situation, then ignores dredge materials which are being dumped in Stancill’s quarry. This is why we do not want a quarry because after you dig a deep hole in the earth you have to fill it up with something. Usually that is something that is cheap and no one else wants like fly ash, nuclear waste or dredge material. Then comes the problems with the water supply! So goes Cecil County! I am sure there is a lot of rock out in Utah for Moore and her posse to mine!

    • Jackie Gregory on June 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Joe C,
      Please read to the end of the article:
      “Rants and raves aside, under the court settlement, York would not be allowed to engage in mineral extraction under its old M2 zoning. Instead, the landowners would have to apply to the Planning Commission for an MEB “overlay” and also seek a “special exception” to do so, a process that would involve public hearings and a lengthy review process. The planning panel previously rejected a bid for mineral extraction on the site.”

      So the chances of mining occurring in the Carpenters Point area are slim to none.

      You should also note that state laws prohibit materials such as fly ash from being dumped within 1000 feet of a tidal reservoir.

      • Joe C on June 16, 2013 at 6:20 pm

        Jackie,
        It is my belief the special exception process has already started and it will be a mere formality to approve it. YBP is to powerful to be denied and they have not thrown the money that they have for no reason. I can not believe that the Patriot’s have not raised heck about the sewer fees. I do not have problem paying for upgrades that CURRENT users require, but the plan calls for current users to pay for CAPITAL expenses for future users. This is not right or fair to the current users. Make Developers pay for development, plain and simple. After all you will not like it when the same development causes school and library cost to increase.

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