Time to Replace the Rutter
With Executive Owens' imminent departure, it was only a short matter of time before her land-use hitman, Joe Rutter was going to be shown the door. Without exception, the questions most fervently being directed to Executive candidates Leopold and Johnson had to do with their proposed solutions to the broken Planning and Zoning and Inspections and Permitting Departments. Smart enough to see the handwriting on the wall, Rutter turned in his resignation this week.
It's critically important that the next County Executive appoint a Chief Land Use Officer who is going to see to it that the County bureaucracy carry out development in a way that is well-planned, sensible, and respectful of the environment. That individual, who sits above the Directors of P & Z (currently Rutter), I & P (currenly Spurge Eismeier), and Public Works (currently Ron Bowen), should be responsible for implementing the Executive's will on growth, and seeing to it that each of the Executive agencies are carrying it out effectively [organizational chart available here]. The current Chief Land Use Officer, Robert Miller, was, apparently, told by Executive Owens that Mr. Rutter was going to do as he pleased, effectively short-circuiting the chain of command.
The priorities, as I see them, for the next Director of P & Z and I & P have to be:
P & Z
- Ensure that all new development is using the most innovative and environmentally benign stormwater management measures. For instance, Rutter/Owens allowed the developers of Parole to get away with managing only 20% of the stormwater falling on the site. That threshhold is not acceptable, even for redevelopment.
I & P
- Lobby to hire more inspectors, lots of them. Despite the current Directors assurances to the contrary, the Department is badly understaffed, a fact made clear by all the violations that slip through the cracks [see: Little Dobbins Island]