Zoning text quashes public appeals
In 2015, a huge subdivision on Billingsley Road was approved by the Charles County Planning Commission. Perhaps this was because the report prepared and presented by county staff omitted the fact that Billingsley Road was inadequate to safely handle the subdivision’s 1,300 additional car trips. In a “de novo” appeal, citizens were able to introduce this omitted fact as new evidence, and the county’s Board of Appeals reversed the Planning Commission’s approval of the subdivision.
In response, the county attorney has proposed a zoning text amendment (ZTA) to stop the public from being able to successfully file appeals by introducing new, previously omitted evidence in appeals. This ZTA takes away “de novo” appeals; meaning no new evidence can be introduced in the appeal.
It is already very difficult and expensive for the public to appeal inappropriate developments that make our roads more dangerous; in fact there are far too many to be able to appeal since virtually every development gets approved.
Citizens who don’t want to lose their rights to successfully appeal should ask their commissioner not to adopt a ZTA policy that blatantly and intentionally prevents the public from successfully challenging poor administrative decisions by introducing new evidence. The commissioners’ phone number is 301-645-0550 and the email address is commissioners@ charlescountymd.gov.
A public hearing on this issue is scheduled for Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. Those wishing to speak must sign up to do so prior to 6 p.m.