Who's on first at the Board of Appeals? Hopefully we'll find out soon

August 16, 2011

I only wish the media had come down the hall to the Board of Appeals hearing the same night they attended the Planning Board session on the Clarksville road project ("Board: Clarksville road project needs study News, Aug. 11). If they had, reporters would have seen the Board of Appeals's version of that old Abbott and Costello comedy routine, "Who's on First."

After seven nights of hearings on development in Turf Valley, the Board of Appeals needs to resolve their rules of procedure in order to be responsible to all parties and not waste taxpayer time and money. In this case and future cases! Despite having started hearings on this case five months ago, the board members disagreed as to which party should have presented their case first. Should it have been the petitioner (developer) or the protestant (citizen) and who's really the appellant? One board member diligently tried to explain his position as to the definition of the parties and who should have presented their case first. The chairman disagreed with him. The other two members in attendance were unsure of their position in the process while one member was absent. The board's office of law counsel was uncertain and was speechless when asked for a legal opinion.

The saga continued as one board member questioned whether the Board of Appeals should be second-guessing the Planning Board. Isn't that the role of the Board of Appeals?

It doesn't matter your position on this project. It's important for all to realize this could happen to any of our communities (including Laurel, Elkridge, Columbia and Clarksville). If you want to hear this you can listen by going to the council tab on the county's new website, clicking "Watch Us," scrolling down to the Board of Appeals bar and clicking on "video" for BA 674, 8/4/11. The most enlightening and interesting part of the discussion starts at 1:09:00 in the recording.

The media and public have an opportunity to witness the sequel of this misfortune first-hand Aug. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the George Howard Building. Hopefully, we will all find out who's on first.

Stuart M. Kohn

Laurel

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