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Communications may be impeding town planning process

James Rada
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(1/18) The Emmitsburg Mayor and Board of Commissioners met with their planning consultant on Jan. 17 to try and figure out why town planning projects don’t seem to be progressing.

“I’d like to see what he thinks he’s doing for us because the impression isn’t real favorable,” Board President Chris Staiger said at the town meeting on Jan. 2.

The commissioners agreed with Staiger and added an update meeting to the agenda on Jan. 17.

The town hired Christopher Jakubiak of Jakubiak and Associates, Inc. of Annapolis in March 2006 to fill the hole left when Town Planner Michael Lucas resigned in 2005. Some of the projects on his table are the update of the comprehensive plan, an adequate public facilities ordinance and a town ordinance.

Staiger described his attitude on the 17th as “agitated.” “I think part of what I reacted to is asking for contact and not getting a response,” said Staiger.

He said there seemed to be a communications problem between the town and Jakubiak. Staiger said when he sent Jakubiak an e-mail the next day asking him to attend the meeting and provide the commissioners with an update, Jakubiak responded quickly and positively.

“Might be unfair to blame it all on him,” Staiger said. “I think I want to find out what he thinks he’s responsible for and what he thinks his timelines are.”

Commissioner Cliff Sweeney agreed that the problem might not lie entirely with the planning consultant. “Some commissioners on the board feel we shouldn’t have a town planner,” Sweeney said. “They think it’s a waste of time, but we don’t have anyone with planning experience on the planning and zoning commission. We might have a couple people who think they know, though.”

Mayor Jim Hoover said, “I’m not convinced we’re getting everything in a timely manner, but not convinced it’s all his [Jakubiak’s] fault.”

He said he has seen debate go back and forth with planning projects with no decisions being made.

Sweeney said he doesn’t know if a planner will be needed in the future, but one is needed now to help the town update its comprehensive plan.

Staiger said he’s not sure what the problem is, but the commissioners will be careful about how they proceed. “Ideally what we have a town manager for is to manage,” Staiger said. “They shouldn’t need us to micromanage.”

Hoover added that the slowness of communications has put the town behind schedule with getting things accomplished, but it hasn’t caused the town any harm.

Since the meeting took place between the town and Jakubiak after The Dispatch’s deadline, for this issue, you can read about the meeting on The Dispatch’s Web site, www.thedispatch.us, and in the Feb. 1 issue of the paper.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government