Planning Commissioner Court Challenge Against Calvert County Commissioners Dismissed

Calvert Recorder article (2018-01-03) reported the dismissal of a circuit court case challenging the ability of county commissioners to remove members of planning commissions or other county boards. The case was filed against the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners by two former Planning Commission members (former chair Maurice Lusby and vice-chair Michael Phipps) after the County Commissioners removed them from their positions. Retired Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge James P. Salmon dismissed the case on December 22, 2017.

The County Commissioners moved to suspend Lusby and Phipps in November of 2016 over alleged procurement and fiscal procedure violations, an open meetings violation, and failure to address a proposed zoning amendment. From the article:

“The Court, in essence, concluded that the County Commissioners have the right to impose reasonable limitations on the Planning Commission’s expenditures for legal fees and the Order & Opinion states that Messrs’ Lusby’s and Phipps’ refusal to comply with that directive constituted misconduct under Maryland law,” explained County Attorney John Norris to The Calvert Recorder in an emailed statement. …

Commissioners’ President Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) said the commissioners made a very difficult decision to suspend the commission heads and believes the late December court ruling proves their decision correct. Slaugenhoupt told the Recorder the commissioners were well within their legal rights to remove the chairs. …

Norris said the court also dismissed a variety of other causes of action simply because they are not viable under Maryland law or under the facts and circumstances of this case.

The article also noted that Lusby and Phipps are deciding whether to appeal the dismissal order to the Court of Special Appeals or request a reconsideration of the order.