A May 11 Carroll County Times editorial, after weighing the pros and cons of the issue, endorsed the enactment of legislation (HB 919 / SB 551) passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2015 Session that would clarify the ability of a local legislative body in a non-charter county or municipality to substantively amend a comprehensive plan submitted by a planning commission. Legislative bodies in charter counties already possess such amendment authority. MACo successfully supported the legislation with some clarifying amendments. From the editorial:
The logic behind the opposition [to the bill] boils down to a concern that future county commissioners might be tempted to make significant changes, ostensibly undoing the work of the planners. Keep in mind that the commissioners wouldn’t have to make changes, but it’s easy to see how they might feel increased pressure to do so if they had the ability to wield that power. On the flip side, though, supporters of this bill, including six of Carroll’s seven delegates, say the legislation would help expedite process. Moreover, they believe the ultimate power belongs with elected officials, in this case the commissioners, who are accountable to voters.
“Right now, the process is convoluted and there is no clear delineation of who is responsible,” Del. Susan Krebs told us Friday.
While we find both arguments compelling, we agree with Krebs and others who believe the accountability argument carries more weight.
Governor Larry Hogan is set to sign HB 919 on May 12. SB 551 is not on the bill signing schedule.