SUGGESTIONS FOR THE LAND
Bridget Mugane, President
Howard County Citizens Association
October 2, 2007
Have Procedures for Testifying before the Planning Board (PB), as does the Council now; make this available in a brochure at the sign-up table.
The PB website needs to be more easily accessible, especially the agenda which should have appended at the bottom, the rules for testifying.
Enlarge opportunities for the public to be heard by the PB: have established, well-publicized e-mail testimony procedures with the record held open as long as possible.
Continue to ensure the PB treats audience members with respect.
Post plain-English explanations of ZRAs if the DPZ technical staff report is difficult to understand or if there is no staff report; have the explanation attached to the agenda ZRA, as the Council now does.
Ensure the public has maximum standing to testify at all stages of development applications, and that deadlines for presubmission meetings are adhered to.
Publicize how people can become an “interested party” and be kept in the loop.
Publicize the fact that people have the right to contact a specified DPZ official to get more information about a proposal or ZRA; that info could be put under each agenda item as part of the plain-English explanation, with the name, phone number and e-mail address of the contact person.
10.Have the PB Rules of Procedure subject to approval by the County Council, to ensure the PB does not restrict the public’s rights.
11. Have the PB use consistent meeting dates, times and places so the public knows when and where to go.
12. Ensure the Technical Staff Report is posted within the allotted time, and if not, postpone the hearing.
13. Have the PB rule on any motions within a specified time stated in the Procedures.
14. Ensure PB Rules of Procedure allow members of the public to cross-examine any witness in quasi-judicial proceedings.
15. Allow sign-up to testify, by e-mail and again if a hearing extends to
Allow substitution of speakers.
Allow organizations to register their representatives for one year rather than requiring a signed consent from the organization for every hearing.
Prohibit rental of Howard Bldg. rooms for organizations on hearing nights (example: the Chamber and ZRA 90 providing dinner in the
HCCA supports the May 10, 2007 recommendations on the Planning Board Procedures.
Improve orientation/information for the Planning Board (PB) members.
Do they have a handbook like the “Planning Commission Duties & Responsibilities” used in Montgomery County?
Are they enrolling in the U. Md. two day course in urban planning as suggested by HCCA?
Do they have a manual with all necessary regs, criteria for review of applications, etc.
Have the DPZ Ombudsman in the chain of command directly under the County Exec; currently the Ombudsman is also a DPZ Deputy Director who naturally represents the interests of DPZ.
Reduce the role of the DPZ Director in PB work sessions; the Director should not sit at the table, but be present as a resource person.
Have the PB’s counsel present at all hearings and work sessions.
Do not allow the PB to call upon developers’ attorneys in work sessions, for their advice while not calling upon knowledgeable members of the public who are present.
Have DPZ reach out to the community and present explanations of green building techniques, how the permitting process works, affordable housing, etc. The recent Ch. 70 program on the land development process was helpful. These could be on the website if possible in text form, on a permanent basis and in brochures on the sign-up table.
Ensure the public has a full opportunity to be heard by any Design Advisory Panel and to submit e-mail comments; all developers’ materials which the DAP will review, should be made available to the public 15 days in advance, by rule.
DPZ officials should describe what action has been taken, if an organization makes recommendations and this should be posted on the website.