Harry M. Leet, the owner of a Boyds farmhouse in which six persons died in a January fire, lost his bid for reappointment to the zoning law appeals board in a 6-to-0 vote yesterday by the Montgomery County Council.
The council appointed Max H. Novinsky of Wheaton to a four-year term on the county Board of Appeals, which approves or rejects exemptions to county zoning laws.
Leet, 68, had been charged with several housing code violations at the house at 22901 Slidell Rd., including illegal occupancy of a condemned house, but that charge was dropped when county officials decided that they did not have a case, said Richard J. Ferrara, director of Montgomery's Department of Housing and Community Development. Leet also has been cited for housing code violations at other rental properties he owns.
The council's only reference yesterday to the fire was a comment after the vote by Council President William E. Hanna Jr. that "the incident was shown to have nothing to do with Mr. Leet."
Leet said yesterday, "I wish him [Novinsky] well. I'm not too unhappy not to be reappointed, but I think the decision was made on the basis of unfair publicity of which The Post had a major part."
The Jan. 11 fire, the worst in the county in 33 years, is still under investigation. The fire marshal determined last month that there were no fire code violations and that Leet was not directly responsible for the fire.
Hanna said he would have supported Leet's reappointment "if there had been sentiment on the council" to do so. Hanna said Leet did an "outstanding job" on the board and said other board members would agree. Council member Esther P. Gelman was not present.
Leet said the vote reflected "fear of an election year."