MOUNT PLEASANT — Planning Commission Chairman Steve Brock said Friday that he had no idea Town Council would get upset over his seeking an opinion from the attorney general.
"Absolutely not. I thought they would read it and toss it in the desk drawer and that would be end of it," Brock said.
Brock said that the Oct. 22 opinion, which stated that council changes to the town comprehensive plan require the Planning Commission's approval, was the primary reason council sent him a letter suggesting that he consider resigning. "Stand up, get your throat slit," he said.
Councilman Joe Bustos said the letter to Brock was not just about the attorney general's opinion. He said it also was about Brock's seeking the opinion without input from the town attorney, council or the commission. The commission didn't vote on whether Brock should seek the opinion, he said.
"It's just a litany of stuff," Bustos said. "The problem is we've got the chairman of the Planning Commission going his own way and speaking on behalf of the Planning Commission. He shouldn't be using his chairmanship to do all these things," Bustos said.
Bustos has called for a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss Brock's future as part of a council meeting to be held at Wando High School.
Brock said he doesn't need the backing of the commission to contact the attorney general. He said whoever leaked the council letter to the press suggesting that he consider resigning did not seek the approval of council first. "I would think that's at least as significant," he said.
Mayor Harry Hallman, with council's backing, sent a letter to Brock last week that said his disrespect toward Town Council reached a new level when he sought the attorney general's opinion without consulting Young or the council.
"Show me the rule that says that I'm not supposed to do that," Brock said.
Brock said the attorney general's opinion "doesn't really settle anything" because it is not a law, but he asked for the opinion because he felt council was not respecting the lawful role of the commission. Brock said council members tend to view the commission votes as recommendations that can be disregarded.
Brock wrote a letter that council received Thursday stating that he would not be forced out as Planning Commission chairman. The mayor and council have the authority to remove a Planning Commission member for neglect of duty or misconduct in office, according to the town code of laws. Brock said his conduct since becoming chairman in January doesn't fall into either of those categories.
He said it's tough to stay on the commission when council wants to get rid of him, but he's fighting for the role of the commission as mandated by state law. "It's hugely unpleasant, but more unpleasant is walking away from what I believe in. It was awfully tempting to just take the easy way out," Brock said.
Brock clashed with council's Planning and Development Committee over the Central Mount Pleasant project, but he said his fight with council is not about how a particular development has been handled.
"It's the principle. It's just that simple. I believe we've got to follow the rules in Mount Pleasant. The Planning Commission is not getting its rightful place in the planning process," he said.