Carroll Report Maryland Muckraker

Muckraker: Mt. Airy Town Council votes 3-2 to preserve Flat Iron building after motion by Galletti and flip by Poirier

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Left: Flat Iron building, Right: Council votes to preserve it

Late Monday night, the Mt. Airy Town Council voted 3-2 to preserve the historic Flat Iron building that landmarks the town’s downtown area, after a motion was made accordingly by Councilwoman Lynne Galletti which was seconded by Councilman Karl Munder and received the verbal support of Mayor Larry Hushour as well.

Joining Galletti and Munder to round out the Council majority was President Jason Poirier, whose vote to preserve the Flat Iron marks a flip from when he voted to demolish it last May alongside Councilwoman Pam Reed and Councilman Stephen Domotor.

Blocking the demolition at that time was Mayor Hushour, who ordered town employees against procuring bids for the job, prompting the Council to consider both suing him and amending the Town’s Charter to move most of the Mayor’s authority over to the Town Administrator who reports to the Council.

On Monday, Poirier, who has decided against seeking re-election when his second term ends in May, acknowledged he was probably the swing vote on the issue, admitting he was still conflicted just moments before the vote was set to take place. “This honestly is a tough vote for me, it goes both ways” he said. “I don’t know how I’m voting right now”.

Decidedly against the motion was Domotor, who remains concerned about safety issues with the building, and separately cited a town survey where 75% of respondents said they want something different done with the building. “I can not support that building it it stays in place” he said. “If it moves forward, it moves forward, but I don’t think that’s the best decision for the town, or what all the citizens really want”.

Similarly against the motion was Reed, who has also decided against seeking re-election when her term ends in May, saying the building offers “zero economic benefit to the town”, as she expressed concern that just blanket approving “preservation” may keep tax-payers on the hook indefinitely.

When Domotor said he consulted two well-regarded town employees on the building, with one saying demolish it and another saying move it, Galletti responded sharply by asking: “Are they residents of this town, those staff members?” — the insinuation being that they are not, and that the voice of the taxpayer should come first.

Galletti clarified her reasoning for making the motion, explaining how the motivated citizens that make up the Flat Iron Task Force have a plan and are invested in preserving the building long-term. She said by partnering with organizations like Preservation Maryland, they may be able to secure grants that would ease the cost to taxpayers.

“I make a motion to preserve the Flat Iron building” she concluded. And when the Council agreed, applause broke out in the room.

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