Counties Urge General Assembly to Retain Balanced Approach to Municipal Incorporation

On February 24, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the House Environment and Transportation Committee in opposition to HB 688 – Municipal Incorporation – County Commissioners or County Council – Required Approval of Referendum Request.

If signed into law, this bill would drastically alter the process by which local governments consider areas for municipal incorporation, to the detriment of counties who rightfully have a high degree of oversight under current practice. HB 688 effectively precludes input from the areas to which petitioners seek incorporation, enabling residents to designate themselves for municipal treatment at will. From jeopardizing local zoning policy, to sanctioning the practice of incorporating merely to receive an undue allocation of county resources, this bill upends decades of carefully crafted policy.

From the MACo Testimony:

In Maryland, county and municipal government have a different range of responsibilities. Allowing residents to, at their leisure, designate themselves for municipal treatment when it suits their whim, and without concern for the effects on the abutting areas or the county at large, merely allows the distortions in these laws to become a major policy weakness. HB 688 reverses a set of laws designed to ensure broad, public consideration of proposed municipal incorporations, and sets aside the meaningful impacts upon the residents of the area surrounding the would-be town. Accordingly, MACo requests an UNFAVORABLE report on HB 688.

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