As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Harford County Council is considering a proposed charter amendment that would remove the Council from considering zoning appeals cases, a role that Council has held for more than 40 years. At the public hearing for the proposal, a June 5 Baltimore Sun article recounted citizen testimony urging the Council to maintain its zoning appeal role:
More than a dozen residents told the Harford County Council Tuesday that removing the council’s role as the zoning appeals board would be an abdication of responsibility and even undemocratic.
Former council president Jeffrey D. Wilson, who was among the 19 signed up to speak during a public hearing on the proposed charter amendment, said the council is closer to the people than a court and can act as a “democratic shock absorber.”
Like other residents during the Tuesday night hearing, he said removing the board would only strengthen lawyers and developers who know how to work the system.
The article noted that if the Council passes the charter amendment, it would go to voter referendum during this November’s general election. If the amendment passed, zoning appeals would go directly to circuit court. The article explained that the impetus for the charter amendment was concern over the legality of approaching council members on zoning issues while they are also acting as a zoning appeals board.