Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

WaPo HoCo Zoning

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, October 5, 2006

We have already heard these positions before in this Post article.

I would like to know more about this:

Meanwhile, independent candidate C. Stephen Wallis has said he wants to “depoliticize” the county’s Zoning Board by creating a panel of experts. The five County Council members also sit as the Zoning Board.

Wallis also says he would avoid controversial measures such as last year’s lengthy rezoning bill, which affected dozens of properties and sparked widespread community opposition. Residents argued that the council did not allow for sufficient public input.

“That would not come about on my watch,” Wallis said.

I think the Zoning Board needs work.  So I agree.

How can he avoid comp-lite?  As far as I can tell he can not.  He would be County Executive.  This is a County Council issue.  As County Executive he could veto the bill that came out of County Council.  I don’t think the issue here is public input on Comp-lite, I think the issue is the 18 properties that Ulman, Guzzone, Rakes, and Feaga snuck into the bill.

Mr. Wallis, the problem is NOT the process.  The problem is the people running the show who will not respect the process and work around the process at every possible turn.

I am not pleased with how anyone is characterizing or explaining this issue.  I am told it is to complex to try to explain.  It doesn’t capture voter’s interest because it is to complex.

To me this is real simple.

Every ten years County Council goes through Comprehensive Rezoning.  Comprehensive Rezoning is the legislative process a County uses when it is deemed appropriate that all or a significant portion of the County is to be rezoned.  For up to one year after Comprehensive Rezoning the Council (not the Executive) and review ONLY what they did in Comprehensive Rezoning – thus the term comp-lite.

In March 2005 the County Council (minus Merdon) allowed 18 properties to be added to the Comprehensive Rezoning process in the comp-lite process.  Howard County law does not permit that – it is clear that it doesn’t permit that to happen.

The only person who can say they objected and voted against this was Merdon.

One of the principles that this Country is founded on is Private Property Rights.  Balancing private property rights and development with the needs of the larger community is difficult.  Laws and processes were developed to provide such balance.  We can argue whether the laws or processes are perfect (they certainly are not) but that matters very little when those charged with ensuring the integrity of the process refuse to do so.

This first issue about zoning and development in Howard County is not the process.  It is secondary to elected and public officials refusing to enforce and follow the process.  We could have a perfect process but what good is it if elected officials, like Ken Ulman, won’t respect the process?

The problem is certain members of the current county council, an absentee County Executive, and a staff of directors running the show on the 3rd floor of the County Complex.  These people think they can do what ever they want.

Elect Ulman and we get more of the same.  Mr. Wallis you are not convincing me that you understand the REAL problem.  Don’t throw the process out, throw the bums out.  Chris Merdon understands what is really going on and will clean the house.

Here is my sound bite on Comp-Lite.

We have laws and processes to protect private property rights and balance the needs of the community.  We can surely improve those laws and processes but it matters little if our elected officials refuse to uphold those laws and and by doing so ignore the rights and protections of the citizens, and their primary responsibility to uphold the law.

When offered the opportunity to uphold and respect those laws and refusing to do so says more about a person than their campaign for elected office.

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2 Responses to “WaPo HoCo Zoning”

  1. hocoterp said

    Who’s going to appoint the panel of experts? Wouldn’t it be politicians? I think experience shows that whenever there are appointments to be made to important posts that the appointment process inherently becomes political. It’s a sad fact. Also, I don’t think electing an Independent is going to change that.

    Now does the zoning board need work? Perhaps. But will appointing “experts” to the zoning board take the politics out of it? NO.

  2. Jim Adams said

    Throw the process out, then there are no bums to throw out.

    We need a separation of duties that provides a better measure of safeguards against favoritism than we currently have.

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