Friday, January 20, 2006

Council votes not to reimburse citizens who fight illegal decisions

After much debate, the Montgomery County Council has voted not to reimburse citizens who uncover and fight illegal county decisions that harm neighborhoods but benefit developers.

The Clarksburg Town Center Advisory Committee (CTCAC), the citizens' group that spent more than $500,000 in legal costs to expose the malfeasance, has been seeking reimbursement.

"CTCAC asked the county to pay for more than $267,000 in current legal expenses and an estimated maximum of $200,000 more in future legal fees as well as $35,691 in direct expenses," the Business Gazette reports.

"The requests do not include more than 7,000 hours that CTCAC members have spent searching through an often contradictory and incomplete paper trail at the Planning Department and ferreting out how the process and development regulation went awry, said Amy Presley, a CTCAC founder."

The Council did decide to pay for a third of the mediation costs to settle the matter quietly, behind closed doors.