QUEENSTOWN CITIZENS GROUP CONDEMNS DEVELOPER’S CONTROL OF TOWN DIALOGUE
The Friends of Queenstown (“FOQ”), a citizens group opposing the Elm Street annexation, today called for a halt to what it described as a developer-controlled propaganda exercise masquerading as a Town information-gathering plan. By letter of January 24, 2005, the Town Commissioners informed Queenstown residents that the Commissioners were about to embark on a “Town-wide Listening Tour . . . to listen to the thoughts, ideas and concerns of the residents and answer every question that we can” about the proposed annexation.
“This ‘Tour’ has nothing to do with ‘listening’,” said FOQ volunteer Peter Robertson. “This weekend, for the first time, we saw the Tour playbook prepared for the Commissioners. It reveals that this is a developer-controlled propaganda exercise that has secretly been in the works since at least last fall. The so-called ‘Listening Tour’ is being carefully orchestrated by a developer-paid ‘Navigator’ selected by our developer-paid Town Planner. The whole purpose is, and always has been, to use influence on behalf of Elm Street, not to listen to the residents of Queenstown. Stop the Tour, we want to get off!”
Elm Street Development Corporation has proposed an annexation to allow it to build 1000 new residences (Queenstown currently has 300 homes) and a big-box commercial complex three times the size of the Outlet Center at Routes 50/301. Pursuant to an agreement with the Town, Elm Street has been paying for the services of additional Town staff and consultants to work on its proposal.
Persons on the Elm Street payroll for some or all of their annexation-related services include the Town Lawyer and the Town Planner. It was the Planner who recommended the “Navigator” to the Town. The Navigator designed the “Listening Tour” following surveillance of Town meetings and discussions that he began last fall.
The Navigator will be paid by Elm Street at the rate of $10,000 per month. The amounts received from Elm Street by the Town Planner and other Town staff and consultants have not been disclosed.
Robertson commented: “Our Town decision-making processes have been taken over by Elm Street and its agents. With the developer’s money, we have turned ourselves into ‘Elmstown’ even before the annexation has been voted on.”
The Friends of Queenstown group has been circulating a petition against the annexation which it says has been signed by a majority of the Town’s registered voters.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS AS REPORTED IN THE QUEENSTOWN SENTINEL
(visit http://www.sentinelwhispers.com/ for more details).
Prepared statement read
at the Queenstown Town Meeting Tuesday February 8th 2005
On Feb 2nd, 2004, our three Town Commissioners, the Town Planner, and the Town Lawyer met in secret in Annapolis with Mr. Kramer in direct violation of the Open Meetings Compliance Law. For those that don’t know, Mr. Kramer is to be officially retained tonight at a cost of $10,000 per month by the Town through a “Cost-sharing Agreement” with Elm Street to facilitate Elm Street’s annexation into the Town. Based on the facts as I know them and my reading of the Open Meetings Law, I am in the process of filing a Complaint with the Open Meetings Compliance Board alleging the Town Commissioners, the Town Lawyer, and the Town Planner knowingly violated the Open Meetings Law, that they acted in concert with Mr. Kramer at this meeting as if he were already retained by the Town to formulate a strategy to change public opinion in favor of Elm Street, and that at this meeting Mr. Kramer provided the Commissioners with a detailed playbook of informstion laying out the strategy and how it was to be implemented by the Commissioners. In my complaint, I will allege no prior public notice was given to the townspeople or the press about this meeting, nor was any disclosure about the meeting included in the Minutes of the following Commissioners meetings as is required by Law. Because the Open Meetings Law was violated knowingly and with forethought to deceive the public, I, therefore, insist the appointment of Mr. Kramer be delayed indefinitely until the Open Meetings Compliance Board has evaluated the merits of my claim and ruled accordingly. I also request through the Freedom of Information Act a complete copy of the document provided by Mr. Kramer to the Commissioners, a copy of the Minutes of that meeting that by Law they are required to have produced, and a log of all phone calls made between the Commissioners, the Town Lawyer, The Town Planner and Mr. Kramer dating back to July 1, 2004. I am also investigating the merits of filing a complaint with the various professional bodies regulating the behaviour of the Town Lawyer and the Town Planner regarding their role in deceiving the public and for their apparent conflict of interest in advising the Town on annexation issues when in fact they have ongoing business relationships with each other, with Mr. Kramer, and with Elm St.
Today (the 8th of February, 2005) Mr. Kramer withdrew his involvement in the project in a letter to The Town Commissioners dated February 8th 2005
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