Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman announced her administration will seek approval by the County Council of legislation intended to maximize citizen participation in the county’s comprehensive zoning process and to assure that all proposed changes to zoning are subject to the same degree of public scrutiny. Completed every 10 years, comprehensive zoning was last executed by the Council in 2011.
“In every facet of County government, our citizens deserve to have a voice and to be heard on all proceedings that affect them,” said County Executive Neuman. “This bill presents a once-in-a-decade opportunity for the County to provide additional transparency in the comprehensive zoning process and enable all stakeholders to take their rightful seats at the table.”
This legislation will reform the procedures for performing a comprehensive zoning in all parts of the County, foremost by ensuring all members of the public – including both property owners and their neighbors – have a clear understanding of and sufficient opportunity to participate in every stage of the process. Eliminating the past practice of permitting property owners seeking to up-zone their properties to bypass the public vetting process ensures fairness for all members of surrounding neighborhoods.
Additionally, this bill makes explicit in County law that the County is bound by the requirement under State law that comprehensive zoning must be consistent with the County’s master land use plans.
“Currently, the zoning code does not provide guidance on the comprehensive zoning process. In 2011, when the most recent comprehensive zoning bills were deliberated, many in the public expressed concerns regarding the lack of openness in the process,” stated Director of Planning and Zoning Larry Tom. “This was especially true regarding many of the amendments to the legislation. This bill will rectify this. The provisions in this bill will ensure that the process is conducted with consistency, is easy for interested parties to follow, and is fair and open.”
For more information about Anne Arundel County’s comprehensive zoning procedures, go to www.aacounty.org/PlanZone.