MACo is evaluating the impact of legislation (HB 1257) that would make a series of changes to the Land Use Article which was adopted in 2012. The Land Use Article is a re-codification of existing local land use laws under the State’s code revision process, which serves to reformat and update, but not substantively change, Maryland’s Law. The code revision process has been underway for several decades, replacing the old black 1957 code books with better formatted and easier to read maroon code books. The initial round of code revision is almost complete and this year has also seen the introduction of the new Local Government Article (HB 472).
During the course of the code revision process, the Committee that is charged with rewriting and reformatting the code will also make a series of suggested corrections and clarifications, as well as more significant and substantive changes (known as “flags”). HB 1257 is a compilation of these corrections and flags. HB 1257 makes alterations or corrections to many areas within the Land Use Article, including comprehensive plans, planning commissions, municipal growth elements, annexation agreements, zoning, boards of appeals, subdivision, adequate public facilities ordinances, transfer of development rights, development rights and responsibilities agreements, historic preservation commissions, and the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
MACo has prepared a summary of the bill’s provisions to assist in following and understanding the bill. While most of the changes are non-substantive clarifications or needed corrections, several of the changes are substantive and may raise county concern. The principle change that may concern counties is a prohibition on county elected officials from serving as an ex officio members of a planning commission. MACo will consider a final position on the bill at its next Legislative Committee meeting on February 27.