The name of Lawrence E. Schmidt is not a household word, even in Baltimore County where he lives and practices law, but it may soon take on vital importance to everyone who wants to build or stop a development in the county.
Schmidt, 37, a Towson lawyer and former member of the county Board of Appeals, today was nominated to be the county's new zoning commissioner at a time when the county is planning to give the commissioner vast new powers over proposed development projects.
If confirmed by the County Council Sept. 16, Schmidt will replace J. Robert Haines, who will return to the county Office of Law. Schmidt will earn $65,978 per year.
The county Planning Board is considering changes proposed to the development process that would make the zoning commissioner also an administrative law judge with more subjective powers to restrict or deny permission for new developments, or to approve them more quickly. The judge would replace the County Review Group, a bureaucratic two-member body that now must review every development.
Schmidt, a Republican, said he plans no active role in the debate over the changes now under way, but would answer questions if he is asked. His aim, he said, is to speed the decision-making process as much as possible. To the extent the changes proposed will do that, he supports them, he said.
He was a member of the county Board of Appeals from 1984 to 1990, and is a graduate of Western Maryland College and the University of Maryland Law School. Schmidt lives with his wife and three daughters in Mays Chapel, near Timonium.