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Former town planner files ethics complaint against commissioner

(3/1) Emmitsburg’s former town planner has filed an ethics complaint against Town Commissioner William B. O’Neil Jr., accusing him of using his office for personal benefit, lying to the commission and defaming town staff.

On Feb. 1, former Emmitsburg Town Planner Michael Lucas sent an ethics complaint to Emmitsburg Ethics Commission Chairman Ted Brennan “outlining how Emmitsburg Town Commissioner William B. O’Neil Jr. while serving as a Town Commissioner did violate Section 2.32.030 of the Emmitsburg Municipal Code (conflicts of interest) in an attempt to influence public policy that would directly impact him as a private citizen. Moreover, the complaint demonstrates how Commissioner O’Neil did violate his oath of office, by providing deliberate and demonstrably false testimony before officials of the Town of Emmitsburg.

“Furthermore, the complaint demonstrates how Commissioner O’Neil engaged in a deliberate and malicious campaign designed to undermine and injure the credibility of the Town’s Planning and Zoning Department which had rightfully stood in opposition to Mr. O’Neil’s attempts to subvert the policy process.”

At the core of the complaint is whether on-street parking should be allowed in the Pembrook Woods Subdivision. O’Neil, who lives in the subdivision, wants the restriction lifted, but the town has consistently decided not to do so.

Lucas states that O’Neil spoke in favor of lifting the restriction at the July 2004 Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Lucas wrote in his complaint, “In an attempt to sway the Commission, Commissioner O’Neil stated that guests at his house had on two separate occasions received a total of 23 parking tickets issued by the Town of Emmitsburg, a deliberate falsehood.”

Lucas points out that a review of the tickets issued by the town showed no tickets issued from the first Use and Occupancy Permit to the date O’Neil made his statement. Further, all tickets were accounted for and found to be in sequential order.

In response, Lucas cites a Dispatch article from September 2004, in which O’Neil said, “I would think the town destroys them (once they are contested or rescinded).” (Frederick News Post article on O'Neal allageations)

Then in an Aug. 25, 2004 e-mail to Town Manager Dave Haller, O’Neil wrote, “I would like to know why my residence is apparently being targeted for the issuance of tickets.”

By that time, the first ticket in Pembrook Woods had been issued on Aug. 9.
Lucas wrote in his complaint, “the conduct of Commissioner O’Neil lies far outside the bounds of acceptable ethical behavior…”

When contacted by The Dispatch for a comment on the complaint, O’Neil wrote in an e-mail, “It is a violation of state and municipal ethics ordinances for anyone, Mr. Lucas or myself, to comment in relation to a complaint or review by the committee until the matter is resolved.”

Calls to Lucas and Brennan were not returned.

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