Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Longtime Flower Mound P&Z member ousted

David Johnson and Itamar Gelbman at the June 1 Flower Mound Town Council meeting.
David Johnson and Itamar Gelbman at the June 1 Flower Mound Town Council meeting.

After an ongoing disagreement with a new town councilman, a longtime Flower Mound Planning & Zoning Board member Monday night was ousted from his spot as vice chairman.

David Johnson spoke during the public comment time at Monday evening’s town council meeting and what he called Councilman Itamar Gelbman’s “outburst” at a recent P&Z meeting. He thanked Gelbman for making him one the first things the freshman councilman addressed.

“I didn’t realize I was that big of a threat,” he said.

The outcome late Monday night was that Johnson was removed from his position with councilmembers Gelbman, Brian Rountree and Kevin Bryant voting in favor of the ouster. Councilmen Steve Dixon and Bryan Webb dissented. This happened following a lengthy executive session during which the council and Mayor Tom Hayden had several items planned for possible discussion. One of these things was possible P&Z board member changes.

“Some of the campaign promises I have made were to make sure the residents of Flower Mound will be treated with respect by town officials and representatives,” Gelbman said after the vote.

“I have asked for the removal of Mr. Johnson due the fact he is refusing to work with the new council, he is refusing to take responsibility for his prior actions and he is refusing to treat Flower Mound residents with the respect they deserve in the future. I think we should be held to a higher standards.”

At a May 11 P&Z meeting Gelbman, then a councilman elect, and an alternate member on the P&Z board, demanded Johnson’s resignation. Gelbman alleged that Johnson had been rude and disrespectful to the residents of Flower Mound on the Facebook page Flower Mound Cares. Johnson posted his opposition to Gelbman’s bid for the Place 5 council seat to Flower Mound Cares in recent weeks.

Johnson said posts he made regarding Gelbman’s past were removed from the page by the administrator. He said the possibility of the council removing him might be done as political retribution.

“If I am removed this will allow you to put a hand-picked supporter into that seat and yes, that appointment will be more political payback,’ he told the council early in the meeting.

“It’s a slippery slope when we start justifying truth-based comments, marginalizing them as mean and rude when they are contrary to the mob rule of the day.”

He also alleged that at the election polls, Gelbman insulted a teenage boy, telling him that carrying an umbrella in the rain is ‘gay.’

Johnson also accused Rountree of telling a young woman at the polls that she needed to be married and have two incomes in order to be able to afford a home in Flower Mound.

“Although I don’t have a magical recording bush, I can substantiate these charges,” Johnson said.

Gelbman said at a P&Z meeting just after the town council election, he reached out to Johnson to work together but Johnson refused to speak to him.

“I continued and asked him that if he would like me to support him to keep his P&Z seat, that he should at minimum apologize to the residents of Flower Mound and start fresh. He replied with a very vulgar language to my request.”

According to Councilman Bryan Webb, Johnson was removed from the P&Z board 5 years ago due to the contents of an invocation he gave.

“Once your 15 minutes of fame is up, I will be here, once again, ready to serve the town I love,” Johnson said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of appointing Emily Strittmatter to serve out the remainder of Johnson’s Place 5 term, which ends Sept. 30.

Strittmatter was removed from the Planning and Zoning Commission on Nov. 3 due to a record keeping error. Council member Jean Levenick said it was discovered that Strittmatter did not qualify to serve on the commission at the time of her appointment. Several council members asked that she consider reapplying next year when an opening becomes available on the commission.

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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