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Town wants to know if planning commissioner violated ethics ordinance

(10/4) Emmitsburg Mayor Jim Hoover has asked the Emmitsburg Ethics Commission for an opinion on whether an investigation needs to be opened concerning a member of the Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning Commission.

“The issue was brought to my attention and I’m looking into the matter,” Hoover said. “I definitely have some concerns there.”

During the Sept. 19 planning and zoning workshop, consultant Chris Jakubiak made some recommendations to the commission about properties that should or shouldn’t be annexed into the town based on the town’s water capacity.

Some of recommendations concerned bringing in properties to the southwest of town, which could potentially use up much of the available water capacity.

Patrick Boyle

During the ensuing discussion, Planning Commissioner Patrick Boyle made arguments against the recommendation.

“This is personal, I mean I can’t see taking [properties for annexation] off the books to satisfy Mount St. Mary’s,” Boyle said during the meeting.

However, he failed to note that he is the part owner of the Silver Fancy Farm, one of the potential properties for annexation that Jakubiak didn’t recommend for annexation.

“[Jakubiak’s] saying we have enough water for southwest and northeast but we don’t have enough for anyplace else,” Boyle added later.

If the Silver Fancy Farm is annexed into town it would be able to be developed with more homes than it could be now. The town’s ethics ordinance does not allow for town officials to use the power of their office for personal gain.

Boyle said he did nothing wrong. “I know right from wrong on that subject.”

He said he recuses himself from any votes having to do with that property. During the Sept. 19 workshop, however, he said he wouldn’t be able to vote on the recommendations because he didn’t have enough information from Jakubiak not because he is a part owner of a property in question.

Boyle also announced at his first meeting as a commissioner that he owned property. He made a similar declaration on Sept. 24 because there was a new member on the commission, according to Boyle.

Earlier in the summer, Boyle complained when former Planning Commissioner Catherine Forrence was in a similar situation. She recommended shifting development on a parcel that abutted her mother’s property away from the shared border without acknowledging the property was owned by her mother. Boyle said during the meeting that she was making the recommendation to benefit her mother.

Once the ethics commission meets, they will decide whether an investigation needs to be initiated. Hoover pointed out that he had not made an ethics complaint against Boyle because he hasn’t seen the meeting in question. He is requesting an opinion because more than one person has made mention of the possible conflict to him.

“The ball’s in their court now,” Hoover said. “Neither the town staff nor I are going to file an official complaint.”

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