Ensuring orderly rezoning process


Your Opinions

Thoughts on issues relating to Harford County

July 31, 2005

ISSUE: Harford County is in the early stages of its first comprehensive rezoning since 1997. Critics of the previous rezoning say the County Council's deliberation of the issue was disorganized. Developers bombarded the council with last-minute amendments that sometimes pushed the council's discussion past midnight, and critics say it was hard for citizens to keep track of the process. What steps can the council take to ensure that the rezoning process is organized and open to the public?

Avoid `circus,' follow rules strictly during review hearings

I am glad that the 2005-2006 Comprehensive Zoning Review will be done according to the schedule established by County Council Bill No. 04-40. It is a complicated and unwelcome task, but one that will not go away and should not be delayed because the former executive director or council members don't want to deal with it.

To avoid the circus that occurred eight years ago, the Council should follow the established rules for all hearings. Roberts Rules of Parliamentary Procedure should be strictly followed. If all these rules are not adequate to prevent the frenzied and confused meetings that lasted well beyond midnight the last time around, then the Council should tighten up the rules.

The various properties should be grouped together based on their location within the county and/or municipality or their physical similarity (whether they are farm land, part of a flood plain, an open space, etc.). That way, the same concerns/problems can be discussed for the group rather than arguments for and against being repeated over every one of them.

Public access to the meetings should be limited to only those who own the particular piece of property being discussed; whose properties abut onto that property; who represent the organizations charged with the protection/preservation of farm or agricultural land, open space, and flood plains; who represent the people of the neighborhood or area affected by the change in zoning; and representatives of the media who need to report on the activities of the council.

To prevent the confusion of voting on amendments that are defeated and then followed by nearly duplicate amendments, rules should be passed to prohibit the introduction of such duplicates. A notable difference should be evident if an amendment is defeated and another is introduced in its place. The discussion of amendments should be limited to a reasonable amount of time.

Finally, at the end of the debate, the council should be given a clear statement of the amendment before they are permitted to vote for or against it. It shouldn't be hard to follow the rules. It just takes a strong leader who is knowledgeable about the rules.

Ilma Rosskopf Jarrettsville

We want your opinions

ISSUE: The 18th annual Harford County Farm Fair concludes its four-day run at the Equestrian Center in Bel Air today. With its full schedule of pig races, animal shows, baking contests and the like, the fair is a celebration of all farming things in the county.

QUESTION: With the continued rapid development, is Harford County in danger of losing its farming heritage?

YOUR VIEW: Tell us what you think. Send e-mail responses by Thursday to harford.speakout@baltsun.com. A selection of responses will be published Aug. 7. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and telephone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

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