Update, 3:25 p.m.: Planning Board Chairwoman Françoise Carrier addressed Director Rollin Stanley's remarks before a meeting Thursday, saying they in no way reflect the opinions of the board.
Carrier said in a prepared statement that the Planning Board encourages public participation in its process, and Stanley's comments fall out of line with the department's values.
"While we are grateful to Mr. Stanley for the work he has done on behalf of the agency and for this county to date, we did not sanction his interview with (Bethesda Magazine), nor do we condone the views he expressed," she said. "This board does not take lightly the potential implications of his words, and we will be taking appropriate corrective action."
Original post, 1 p.m.: Montgomery County Planning Director Rollin Stanley called some of his detractors "rich, white women" who spread fear about his initiatives, and a group of activists are asking him to publicly apologize.
The comments were reported in the latest issue of Bethesda Magazine, which quoted Stanley in this passage:
"He has little patience with dissenters. Stanley goes so far as to accuse them of being 'rich, white women ... spreading fear.' He says they stalk his appearances before community groups, sowing discord. He claims they refer to themselves as 'the coven.'"
Among those dissenters are activists Pat Baptiste, Meridith Wellington, Julie Davis and Jenny Sue Dunner, and the four sent a letter to Planning Board Chairwoman Françoise Carrier on March 4, asking the board to address Stanley's comments and questioning his fitness to serve as planning director.
"Through these remarks, Mr. Stanley has impugned our integrity, attacked our credibility, and damaged our personal and professional reputations," they wrote in the letter. "We ask the Planning Board to publicly disavow his remarks."
Carrier declined to comment on the issue, and phone messages left for Stanley went unreturned Wednesday and Thursday.
In a separate letter to Bethesda Magazine editor and publisher Steven D. Hull, the four describe Stanley's remarks as "a smear campaign" and say the "rich, white women" characterization is "a blatantly racial and sexist slur."
In the letter to Carrier, the four say Stanley's remarks further alienate the Planning Department from the residents it serves, discouraging citizens from taking part in the process.
"(His comments) suggest there is a culture that is developing within the Planning Board staff in which citizen participation is neither welcome nor even tolerated," they wrote.
The four have opposed many of the Planning Department's initiatives since Stanley took over four years ago, including the new commercial-residential zone, which the county has used in sector plans for White Flint, Wheaton and Kensington.
Stanley has maintained that Montgomery County's future must involve more vertical development and less suburban sprawl. But Wellington, a former Planning Board member, has argued that high-density projects simply won't work in some parts of the county, and that Stanley's vision would lead to homogeneity throughout Montgomery.