James Rada, Jr.
Commissioner Robert Lookingbill wants to
reduce the Thurmont police chief’s authority
to change the flow of traffic in town after
Chief Greg Eyler made part of Howard Street
one-way without notifying the commissioners.
“It was done without any knowledge to me
or as far as I know any of the commissioners,” Lookingbill said. “My whole
point is to make it available for public input.”
Though Eyler was within his authority to
make the change and said he did so because of a safety concern at the two-way
intersection of Howard Street and Old Frederick Road that will fit only one
car, Lookingbill used the instance to introduce a change in the town code to
share the authority to change traffic flow between the chief and commissioners.
“If he (the chief) deems it a safety
issue, I think he should be authorized to do it on behalf of the citizens,”
said Mayor Martin Burns.
Under Lookingbill’s proposed change, the
chief can still make “temporary” changes that last no more than 30 days without
prior approval from the commissioners.
However, other changes would require the
chief to submit plans to the commissioners and for the commissioners to hold
public hearings on the changes.
Burns said he worries that such a change would politicize the process so that
changes could be made for political reasons rather than safety ones.
Jim Peck with the Maryland Municipal
League said Lookingbill’s request is not unusual. “In most instances, the
elected governmental body continues to have the ultimate authority,” Peck said.
“It is unusual that a chief would have complete authority.”
The commissioners will decide on the
change at a future meeting with a full board of commissioners and Eyler in