Letters...
Benjamin F. Cassell
Stevensville, MD

Comments to the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners, March 6, 2001



 I have serious concerns regarding the relationship between county employees and K. Hovanian along with their attorney, Joe Stevens. I base this on the following 4 points:

1. On January 12, 2001 I met with county personnel to discuss Kent Island Defense League concerns with the economic analysis prepared by the developer. At that time I brought up potential discrimination and legal issues surrounding age restricted developments. During Joe Steven’s presentation at the public hearing on February 27, 2001 he made comments about possible these issues. At no point prior to this meeting did Mr. Stevens or the developer mention anything on this topic. I find it highly unlikely that this was a coincidence and believe that county personnel shared our concerns with Mr. Stevens to aid him in his endeavors.

2. I have read a letter from Mr. Zimmerman (county CFO) sent to Mr. Stevens last August 
suggesting the county was able to save the developer over $3 million. Also mentioned in the letter was the fact that Mr. Zimmerman could be reached during his vacation to help Mr. Stevens in any way possible. I seriously doubt that any one else attempting to do business with the county would get this personal attention.

3. During my meeting with county personnel it was mentioned that we have become “sister- counties” with the county in New Jersey where the developer had other projects and also because a relative of the county employee lived up there. 

4. It has been my experience that when developers purchase land that requires the type of changes the Four Season land required that the sale is contingent upon successful pursuit of those changes. This was originally the case with the Kent Commons Developer. In the case of Four Seasons, the land purchase has been closed and title changed after a significant expense by the developer. Would you make this type of investment with no guarantee of growth allocation? 

While I am not familiar with the ethics policies of this county, I feel that you may owe it to your constituents to investigate the relationships that have developed. Is it within the job description of county personnel to go out of their way to reduce developer’s costs as well as share information received by concerned citizens?  Is it normal for the county to “negotiate” with developers or merely inform them of what is acceptable under zoning laws, codes, etc., and keep sending them back to the drawing boards when they are not within guidelines? 

I have conducted business with several different counties and have discussed normal procedure with many people who have dealt with this county and we all feel there may be favoritism to Mr. Stevens and this developer. 

Benjamin F. Cassell 


 
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