ANNAPOLIS – Maryland’s high court heard arguments Friday in a controversy over who rightfully belongs on the Talbot County Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Maryland Court of Appeals decided to hear the case, skipping over the intermediate appellate court, after Circuit Judge Calvin R. Sanders ruled in May that Linda Makosky, one of the contenders, should have held the seat until Jan. 1, 2003.
It is unknown when the Court of Appeals will rule.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had appointed William O. Bryan before it left office in 2002, but his selection was nullified by the Talbot County Council on Dec. 2, 2002. Bryan, who owns J.M. Bryan and Sons Inc., never ended up serving on the commission.
Makosky, a homemaker, was appointed to the commission in December 1997. She had an appointment letter that said her term expired Dec. 1, 2002. She challenged Bryan’s appointment in Circuit Court, and has served on the commission since Sanders’ ruling.
Bryan’s attorney, Dave Thompson, argued that the Talbot County Council acted in violation of Maryland’s Public Information Act.
The case addresses the issue of lame-duck appointments, which occur when an official’s term extends beyond the time of his election, a scenario which often triggers controversy when used by the executive branch of government.
Several judges agreed that most vital issue concerned the sequencing and timing of the chosen zoning officials. The existing charter states the Planning and Zoning Commission shall consist of five members, appointed for five-year terms.
Christopher B. Kehoe, of Ewing, Dietz, Fountain, represented Talbot County. He said much of the basic facts of the case were agreed upon by the attorneys involved.
Thompson could not be reached to discuss the court hearing.