Controversy continues to explode within Camden County Planning & Zoning as Administrator Don Hathaway tendered his resignation in a dramatic flourish at the end of the regular P&Z meeting Wednesday evening, citing harassment by Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber as the main reason for leaving.

Controversy continues to explode within Camden County Planning & Zoning as Administrator Don Hathaway tendered his resignation in a dramatic flourish at the end of the regular P&Z meeting Wednesday evening, citing harassment by Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber as the main reason for leaving.

A standing-room only crowd flowed out of the courthouse's third floor meeting room and into the hallway as planning commissioners heard a full docket March 19, but it was after all the cases were heard and most of the people were gone that internal strife within the county government erupted in a public forum once again.

Hathaway read a lengthy letter of resignation near the end of a long meeting March 19, following further argument between Luber and Hathaway over the legality of the presentation of proposed changes to the code by Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken that originally arose at the Feb. 19 meeting.

Near Hathaway sat Franken and some members of the political action committee, Coalition for Better Government.

Luber meanwhile sat on the opposite side of the room.

Following Hathaway's speech, planning commission chair Jerry Carroll commented to Hathaway that "We hate to see you go" as some in the room burst into applause. Subsequently, Luber and a few others left the room without comment.

In his letter, Hathaway said his goal has been to "work with all residents to build a better system of land use control."

Priorities have included implementation of code revisions, adoption of modern technical specifications that meet the needs of the local community and achieving compliance with regulatory laws of the state and federal governments, according to Hathaway.

However, he claims that Luber and the "continued harassment of me and my staff" has made realization of those goals impossible.

Hathaway also stated that "I was informed at the onset of my employment that my position was historically one of debate and controversy. A certain group of folks that did not agree with the implementation of the laws of land use and development, having created an adverse political climate," Hathaway said. "I have weathered the storm of criticism and budget restrictions. But it is impossible to manage a department without proper staff in which to fulfill the needs of the community."

Hathaway then blasted Luber over what he says have been multiple confrontations instigated by the Associate Commissioner.

"The task here is difficult enough to ensure consistent code interpretation that is not arbitrary and capricious, without a hostile work environment being created by Commissioner Luber on a regular basis," Hathaway said. "Back handed insults, interrogations and reprimand have been constant."

Hathaway claimed that "outbursts of aggression" from Luber have been well documented in recent investigations, but "for which there has been no report of findings being produced."

Hathaway did not present further details on the documentation or investigation, and further information on the claims are not yet available.

Hathaway did cite a discussion with Luber that occurred in the days after the last meeting in which he says Luber became argumentative over Hathaway's position on the question over procedure for code revision.

Hathaway also took exception to Luber's independent issuance of statements to the media on P&Z issues that were "infused with self interpretations of the facts, that shows a total lack of respect for due process and the authority of others."

He further accused Luber of exceeding jurisdictional authority by attempting to gain control that is reserved for the planning commission.

"His lack of knowledge in the subject is apparent as he seeks to interpret rules and codes to the selection of his agenda," Hathaway said.

"The loose use of information gained in discussions with me and others, without all the pertinent facts being disclosed in the rhetoric being perpetuated in the media is a gross miss use of his office. Mr. Luber needs to be very careful how he handles issues with County Employees who are not elected officials," Hathaway added later in the statement.

While Luber did not make any comment at the meeting, he did speak with the Lake Sun Thursday morning, saying "I'm sorry if he was offended that I was trying to get him to do his job properly. My goal was to make sure citizens were treated properly and that the land use code fits the lake area."

According to Hathaway, Luber has also made statements online, in broadcasts and in print articles that have been defamatory of the administrator's character, and that Luber and his "followers" have made statements of "slanderous content, without providing any facts in the subject in which they make claim."

Hathaway claimed that their personal attacks in questioning his sincerity of task have involved his family and residence in Morgan County.

At a county commission meeting on Thursday morning, planning commissioner Mickey McDuffey made a public statement in support of Hathaway.

"I make it a practice when I'm out in the community and if anyone tells me that they have had dealings with planning and zoning whether it's permitting, it's a construction of an addition or just having a meeting with Mr. Hathaway and I have never had a negative comment. They always tell me he was very professional and that he was very accommodating to them," she said. "As a commissioner on the planning and zoning commission, for the pieces that have come before us, I have to say that Hathaway bends over backwards to accommodate people. This was not my experience when Chris Hall was the administrator but Hathaway goes out of his way to make the cases work for people. Now, I don't know about the cases that do not come to us, but the cases that do, Mr. Hathaway does an excellent job and it's been my pleasure working with him and serving on the planning and zoning commission."

McDuffey did not speak as a representative of the planning commission as a whole but commented on her own. Other planning commissioners have not commented on the situation.

In accordance with P&Z professional standards, Hathaway gave 30-day notice, but could be released at any time by the county commission. He said he could help provide training for his replacement within that time period.

In addition to Hathaway's resignation, it was also announced at the meeting that P&Z Inspector Dann Haworth would be retiring, with health issues being referenced. The planning commission itself is also slated for change in the coming months as McDuffey and Norm Buechting wind down their terms on the board and Camden County Road & Bridge Supervisor Rich Pieper announced his retirement as well.

*Editor’s Note: Lake Sun reporter Spree Hilliard also contributed to this article.