As the Snowden Community Council is gearing up for a major review of land use policies and zoning in the Snowden/Burdoin Mountain area, the council's chairperson has stepped aside.
Jody Fleury, who was unanimously elected to a two-year term as chair of the Snowden Community Council on March 1, resigned from the council during the July 5 meeting.
In her resignation letter, Fleury said her decision to go was based on policy differences with the other members.
"I regret that I am unable to provide the leadership necessary to lead this council in what in my opinion is a more positive direction of full community involvement," read an excerpt of Fleury's letter. "This council has been ineffective in providing a feeling of community ... focusing on land use issues in most cases can be extremely divisive, and thereby working against building a strong community ... I do not believe that the board members of the Snowden Community Council should be the only people who have a vote on the direction of the new plan that will be submitted to the county ... because I am adamantly opposed to having only the board members vote on this most important issue to all landowners in the Snowden/Burdoin council area, I cannot in good conscience continue to participate in this process. I hope that people will understand that this is not `sour grapes,' but my strong belief that this process is not sufficiently inclusive to be representative of all landowners in the community."
The council meets monthly.
"We've never had a chair resign before in my memory, in 22 years," said Chris Connolly, former Snowden chair and a current member.
The vice chair, Louis Huszar, will lead the council until the members make a decision on who will be elected for the role.
Huszar said Fleury's resignation will not slow the council's work on the zoning update.
"No, she ultimately was just one person," he said. "To do the comp plan plus or minus one person isn't going to make or break the whole situation."
Huszar added that the review of the comp plan council is getting a strong public response.
"We've had more and more community folks participating. There is a significant amount of participation on the part of local residents," Huszar said.
Huszar said he wasn't necessarily surprised by Fleury's move.
"To me personally it didn't come as a shock," he said.
There could be a vote on a permanent chairperson at the Aug. 2 meeting, and Huszar said he would be willing to serve.
"I will be chair for the next meeting and solicit consensus, but it will be up to the Community Council to decide if they will accept me as chair," Huszar explained. "I will accept the position, let me say. It entails significantly more responsibility, more time and more effort. But I don't shun that. The chairperson is just a referee anyway."
Connolly said she believed Huszar would be a strong candidate.
"Louis seems to be reasonable and civil and is responsive to other council members' concerns," Connolly said. "I have a lot of respect for him. Obviously we're not always in agreement, but that doesn't seem to hinder our ability to be respectful. I feel pretty comfortable with Louis in that position."
Huszar declined to comment on Fleury's letter or her reasons for leaving the council.
"After the Tuesday meeting she came up and gave me her resignation letter," Huszar said. "I'm not going to dissect that, I accept it on face value. I intend to talk with Jody, but haven't yet. We'll let the dust settle and let people settle down."
Connolly, however, was not so reticent.
"Jody accuses us of not representing all the landowners, but we are elected by the residents," Connolly said. "It's hard to understand how someone can accuse the council of being exclusionary in the notification of the zoning and comprehensive plan update process, given that we're planning a radio interview, have a newsletter that will be mailed to all Snowden residents next month, and plan news releases to the newspaper, signboards on Snowden Road, and workshops."
According to Huszar, the comprehensive land use planning process could be contentious.
"Some want the community just the way it is, while others say let us do some subdivisions. That's why it's going to be a difficult process," he explained.
Fleury did not return telephone calls seeking comment.