Council votes to appeal voiding of zoning law Members want to let anyone to question rulings

January 24, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Hampstead officials voted last night to appeal a recent Circuit Court ruling that struck down the town's ordinance allowing any taxpayer to appeal decisions of the town's Planning and Zoning Commission.

Before the Hampstead Town Council passed the law last summer, only adjacent property owners or residents deemed "aggrieved" had standing to appeal commission decisions to the town's Board of Zoning Appeals.

The new ordinance gave any town taxpayer that right.

"People have to have an avenue to appeal, to be heard," Mayor Christopher M. Nevin said after the council voted to appeal the Jan. 5 decision of Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.

Councilman Stephen A. Holland abstained from the vote.

Mr. Holland, who was elected last spring, is one of the four citizens involved in the original appeal of the town Planning and Zoning Board's approval of the expansion of North Carroll Farms, a Hampstead subdivision.

Mr. Holland said he expected that, based on the town's decision, the citizens group also would take its case to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

In his ruling, the judge said that state law does not expressly give municipalities the right to decide who can appeal commission decisions.

The town contends that state law does not forbid anyone from appealing a zoning commission decision.

Developers such as Martin K.P. Hill of Manchester have accused the Town Council members elected on a controlled-growth platform last spring of being overzealous in passing legislation aimed at curtailing residential development.

Mr. Hill has built more than 800 homes in Hampstead during the past decade. He plans 220 more homes in the single-family and townhouse development of North Carroll Farms.

The project had been on hold for almost 18 months until Judge Beck's decision.

In other Town Council activities last night, Mr. Nevin said that Councilman Dwight W. Womer had resigned because of a conflict with his new work schedule.

Mr. Nevin asked that any resident interested in filling Mr. Womer's term, which expires in May 1997, submit a letter to him outlining why he or she would like to serve on the council.

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