Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

June 2003

Our small Town needs volunteers to help it function

For the past several months the Town has been advertising for volunteers to serve on several different committees. The Town has always had difficulty filling these volunteer positions and, at the same time, the Town receives much criticism for not involving more town residents in the decision making process.

The Parks & Recreation, Streets & Transportation, and the Water committees are all used as advisory boards to the Town Council. These committees are asked to recommend suggestions to the Town Council for consideration. The Planning & Zoning, Board of Appeals, and Ethics committees are committees which have final authority; the Mayor, Commissioners and Town Staff may not require them to take direction from them when voting.

Except for the Economic Review Board, there are no written specifications as to who is deemed qualified to become a member of any of the town committees. However, due to the power of the Planning & Zoning Committee, I have been a little more selective as to whom I will recommend to Planning & Zoning.

The Planning & Zoning Committee must maintain a board which has some members with some form of actual experience in land development (planner, surveyor, contractor, engineer, etc.). Without experience on the board, developers will take advantage of the Town and, unless something was done illegal, the Mayor and Commissioners cannot overturn the Planning and Zoning Committee's decisions.

The Ethics Committee is another committee of major importance. This committee is the only committee that allows for non-residents to become members. The Town has advertised for interested individuals to fill the Ethics Committee since January. Since that time, only one person applied to fill one of the 3 vacancies; due to the applicant's current appointment on the Board of Appeals, he is not eligible to serve on the Ethics Committee. At this time the town continues to be without an Ethics Committee.

All Town committees are advertised on the Town's cable channel (channel 99) and, for the past several months, the Town has also advertised vacant committee positions in The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Before being appointed to the Town Council, I served on the Streets and Transportation Committee and on the Planning and Zoning Committee. I found that my experience on these committees gave me a better understanding of Town government. In my previous position as commissioner, and in my current position as mayor, I find that I still base many of my decisions on the experience I received from these committees. These committees helped me to see and understand more of the "big picture" when discussing and voting on Town matters.

If you are interest in serving on any of the Town committees, please contact me at the Town office. Except for the Ethics Committee and the Board of Appeals, all other committees meet once a month. The Ethics Committee and the Board of Appeals meet as

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the town office, or e-mail me at

Jim Hoover

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