Thursday, March 13, 2008

Committee 3 meeting notes update


PELU Committee 3

Informal Draft (no official status)
Offered by Bridget Mugane


Establish method for agencies to report on status of implementation.


Presubmission meetings

Strengthen citizen input as follows:

- ensure notice signs are placed so as to be legible from street
- have a box on signs with DPZ handout describing the whole process, including when and how to have input and what issues are relevant. Have a phone number at which that recorded information is available as well as the developer’s description of the proposal itself.
- send notice of meetings to all HOAs, community associations, village boards, etc. in that area.
- provide list of relevant HOAs, associations, etc. to developer
- have a DPZ facilitator who explains the process and conducts the meeting
- require that the developer’s minutes of the meeting state the concerns, followed by possible solutions
- encourage the developer to accommodate citizen concerns by granting incentives if agreement can is reached
- hold an additional meeting to review the proposal which shows the proposed layout, prior to submission for approval of the layout


Require mediation prior to a hearing.

Substantive Regulations

Amend regulations to address items of frequent concern by the community.
Increase the use of transferable development rights to solve impasses with the community and encourage smart growth.


Waiver applications are on website; public can sign up to be informed of applications.
Pre-submission waivers would require a community meeting.


Improve notice to HOAs, village boards, organizations of relevant applications.

Design Advisory Panel

If established for master planning areas, ensure full public participation with in-person testimony, 15-day advance notice, etc.


Place position under the County Executive rather than being a DPZ Deputy Director, to ensure impartiality.


County Website

Have PB agenda link on main page or at least on page “Departments.”
Have PB simple rules for testifying here and as a handout at hearings.
Allow e-mail testimony and have a link to facilitate it.
List ZRA and other proposals by the first of each month rather than the middle, when it is too late to get organization board approvals and study proposals
Have a plain-English summary for each ZRA (see under ZRAs, below).
Have an option for signing up to receive PB list of proposals submitted for hearing, and the hearing date (as does the Council) when it first comes out
Allow e-mail sign up to testify (as does Council)


Have a plain-English summary, including effect and reason needed, and name and number of the relevant agency staffer who can answer questions (like the Federal Register). Provide this just under the ZRA on the website agenda and as a handout at hearings.

Text Amendments

Rezoning by ZRAs for individual parcels (“text amendments”) should be discouraged; rezoning should be in the Comp Rezoning process whenever possible.
Instead of a continuing stream, require they be submitted periodically in groups at set intervals, and allow at least 30 days so residents/organizations have time to review them.
Post the properties for which amendments are sought, and others which would be affected, and require a community meeting in advance.
Require that the other properties which would be affected, be identified for the Technical Staff Report.
Require they be proposed by DPZ or a County Council member, to ensure merit.

Rules of Procedure

Have them be subject to County Council approval (not just by PB itself).


All County Hearings

For all county entities which hold hearings, make the procedures as uniform as possible, which are made available to the public on the website and in handouts at hearings. Do not permit rental of Howard Bldg. rooms for groups just before and during hearings.
Have a visible, established place in the local newspapers for information on public hearings; not buried in back of paper under notices. Make it a requirement that hearings be published in the main part of the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times.
Have a place in the county building where testimony can be recorded with web cam technology.
Allow testimony by video e-mail.
Use the video screen in the entrance of the Howard Building to display the type of testimony relevant in the hearing or hearings that night.
For DPZ meetings held in a particular district, if some important topic has been left out, contact the attendees and convene a second meeting.
Ensure the Technical Staff Report is available on time and, if not, reschedule hearing.
Allow e-mail sign up for testimony.
Allow organizations to register once a year and designate their spokesperson for the year in lieu of having to present credentials at each hearing.
Require that record be held open for e-mail testimony for a specified period before and after the hearing
Have hearing rules, and procedures for public input be consistent as much as possible before all public bodies.

Planning Board hearings

Ensure PB treats citizen speakers with respect, and be cordial if firm with rulings (Example: , “Your point is appreciated but has already been made; please move to your next point.” Said in a pleasant manner)
Allow substitution of speakers where hearing is continued; put in written procedures and explain what documentation is needed, if any.
Grant representatives of organizations 5 minutes to speak.
Spell out whether established organizations need to formally designate a representative, whether for each hearing or case, for what length of time, and how that designation is to be presented. (Make it as easy as possible.)
For quasi-judicial hearings spell out how opponents are to choose a representative to present witnesses, cross examination, discovery, etc.
Have the PB’s Executive Secretary (this is the Director of DPZ) present but not be seated at the table with the PB at hearings, and work sessions. The PB is a citizen body and should not rely on DPZ for guidance.
Have the PB’s Counsel (the County Solicitor’s office) present at all hearings and work sessions, as the source of legal advice, rather than the developer’s attorney.


Zoning Counsel

Should give an opening statement.
Written opening statements could be submitted in advance to allow the ZB to rule on limiting issues for testimony.
Have DPZ technical staff available for examination/cross-examination (e.g., to explain reasons for conclusions in the Technical Staff Report).
Alternatively or in addition, allow interrogatories to technical staff.



Post proposed amendments to Design Manuals, and other matters, on the website. Append a rationale in plain English.


Have DPZ do public education and provide assistance on green building techniques, conservation in conjunction with the Office of Environmental Sustainability.

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