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Fosselman Responds to Critics

The mayor and his supporters defended his actions in the sector plan process.

The controversy over Kensington Mayor Peter Fosselman's property holdings came to a head at Monday's Town Council meeting, as critics questioned his ethics and town residents came to his defense.

Fosselman co-owns three Kensington properties with his domestic partner, Duane Rollins, a fact highlighted in a recent Washington Post article.

The mayor has long been an advocate for the town's proposed sector plan, and Kensington resident Ken Timmerman said at Monday's meeting that Fosselman's personal stake in town properties is a conflict of interest.

"This is the kind of thing that happens in third-world countries," he said. "I've been to banana republics, Pete, and I've seen it before."

Fosselman said he purchased his holdings in Kensington in 2009, after the Town Council's vote on the sector plan, and that he looked to the town's ethics committee for advice on how to proceed as mayor.

The committee, in a letter Fosselman provided to Patch (posted above), ruled that he could continue to participate in discussions of the sector plan as a whole but should abstain from talks about specific zoning. Fosselman said he has obeyed the ruling all along, and that he has no vote on any town issues anyhow.

John Huber, who lives in Chevy Chase View, said that's not good enough. The mayor should not have even been in the room for discussions related to the plan, Huber said, and the Post article was an embarrassment for everyone who lives in the Kensington area.

But many town residents at the meeting came to the mayor's defense.

Sean Neary, who lives in Kensington, said he was embarrased by the article, too, but for the opposite reason. Fosselman has worked hard to improve the town, he said, and the rancorous tone of the sector plan debate has been counterproductive.

"I want to applaud the mayor and council for putting up with this B.S., for lack of a better word," he said. "I wouldn't be able to do it."

Darin Bartram, who also lives in the town, said Fosselman followed all of the rules throughout the sector plan debate, and that 11th-hour criticisms do little to help the town.

"We have an ethics code," he said. "You went through that, got a result, and you complied with it."

Town Councilmember Mackie Barch said everyone who owns property in Kensington, whether residential or commercial, stands to benefit from redevelopment, and that Fosselman has done nothing wrong.

Not everyone on the Town Council agrees, however.

Councilmember Lydia Sullivan, who missed the meeting to deal with a personal issue, said in an interview with Patch that Fosselman has not been forthcoming with his personal stake in redevelopment. Most people in town first found out about the mayor's properties from the Post article, she said.

"I find it problematic that the chief spokesman for the plan is also one its chief beneficiaries," Sullivan said.

The proposed plan is currently making its way through the County Council, with the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee last week. The full council is expected to vote on it by early March.

Darin Bartram February 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Judy--I think you are misreading what I'm saying. I am not threatening anyone. I thought I was being helpful by cautioning people to not have a false belief that they are truly anonymous on the web. The news is replete with stories of offended readers taking to the courts to find out the identity of someone who spreads false information. Here's a recent example: http://abovethelaw.com/2011/07/thomas-cooley-sues-a-law-firm-and-four-john-doe-people-on-the-internet-for-defamation/
Jeremy Button February 15, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I truly believe all the Kensington conspiracy theorists need to switch to decaf. Stop and think about all the insinuations you are making about mayor Pete and what would need to be true for them to have any validity whatsoever. Mayor Pete wants to secretly destroy the town to make a few bucks on his commercial properties on to lose it on the residential home he owns?? I mean come on people I trust facts and experts...not speculation and innuendo. Anyone with me here?
Kensington Resident February 16, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I too would rather the Patch report on the issues at hand. Time is running out to build more protections into the Sector Plan. Had the Plan been approved last spring as some say should have happened; had folks like Councilmember Sullivan not stood their ground and continued to work with the Planners to incorporate reasoned, protective language into the Plan, you folks who live or have family living at the edge TOK properties would not have the reduced ‘step down’ density that is now included in the revised draft Sector Plan. The Patch should have reported on the Kensington Sector Plan issues that were raised during the meeting instead of feeding the propaganda machine with this article. The heights and densities of the Plan continue to be called into question.
Steven Cohen February 16, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Thank you Copywolf ...I AM STEVE ! You will know that because at the end of each post it will say "Steve" . Now, if you guys start attacking me, I may have to change my name to Michelle. I'm going to sleep. Steve Cohen
Doctor RosenRosen February 16, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Why can't we all just get along.

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