Friday, March 21, 2014

Prince George's People Counsel in Comparison

For years we have suggested that in matters before the Zoning Hearing Examiner, the Board of Zoning Adjustment, and the Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration (liquor licenses), that citizens groups should be afforded representation by "the state" to represent their interests because the applicants usually have funds and the citizens don't and it is a hardship to require citizens and citizens groups to come up with the funds to hire professional representation.

Plus, we think it's a bit of a 14th amendment violation (such cases are difficult to win), because neighborhoods of high income households have a greater likelihood of being able to retain or provide quality representation, and low income neighborhoods are less likely to have such resources, and therefore have less or minimal representation in comparable situations.

I suggested that a model be created for this, in the manner in which People's Counsels represent citizen interests.

Hearings are held during working hours of most citizen's. Maybe we give consideration to lobbying for a "People's Advocacy Counsel", to represent the community concerns in land development issues?

Prince George's County People's Zoning Counsel
"There's just such a big gap between the developer, who can afford the different fees and representation, and those of us who are part of community associations who can't afford that, the people's zoning counsel is to act on the part of the public."

Many are of the opinion that at the zoning examiners and the people's counsel for whom we as county residents pay there salaries sometimes oversteps its role and gives developers a boost. "It is responsible for the county to defend its decision. It is irresponsible for them to take the posture of directly attacking the environmentalists and communities who are protesting,".

Whether the developer is right should be irrelevant, because it should be up to the developer's attorneys to make their own case.

M-NCPPC Planing Board on Special Exceptions
We expect that upon a request for a public hearing before the Commissioners that our "Planning Board" whom we are of the opinion should protect the interests of people and "Community Input", for who they serve would honor such request for a "public hearing"... 
In past experiences of such request before the Honorable Samuel J. Parker, Jr., Chairman Prince George’s County Planning Board, Chairman the Commissioners never denied such requests.

Therefore we are of the opinion that this Commission lacks the "Transparency" and the welcoming of "Community Input", but waiver towards ones own self-serving interest.

Prince George's County Zoning Attorney & Lobbyist
Registered LOBBYISTS • Miscellaneous (in a MISCELLANEOUS organization entry.)
Stan Brown (People’s Zoning Counsel)
Andre’ Gingles, Calverton +1 301-572-5009
John Lally
John Barr
Wayne K. Curry
Marvo Jo Camp
Suellen Ferguson (Municipal Atty)
Derick Berlage, Rockville (Former Chair Mont CO. Council & MNCPPC)
Vernell Arrington
Abigail Bruce-Watson

Good Examples of People's Zoning Counsel

Harford County Council...

In April 1976, the County Council introduced legislation in the form of a Charter amendment providing the authority to establish the position of People's Counsel and the People's Counsel Citizens Advisory Board.

At that time, commercial and residential development was rapidly moving throughout the County and the Council felt many citizens and communities did not have the means or money to present organized opposition to the development. Although this Bill was vetoed by then County Executive Charles Anderson, the County Council overrode the veto, and Bill No. 76-35 was approved by a majority of the voters at the general election in November, 1976.

Subsequently, the County Council introduced Bill No. 76-103, which set forth the powers, duties and responsibilities of People's Counsel. The intent of the County Council was to employ an attorney to "represent the interests of the public in all matters and proceedings preliminary to, arising out of, or affecting the zoning classification or reclassification of land in the county."

An important provision of this Bill gave authority to People's Counsel to be "free to make an independent determination as to the matters and proceedings in which he shall participate and the conduct of the affairs of his position in performing his duties and functions." 

Bill No. 76-103 also established the People's Counsel Citizens Advisory Board, a group of seven citizens appointed by the County Council, "broadly representative of all segments of the County's population." The Board has the authority to "provide guidance and make recommendations to the People's Counsel regarding any matter referred to them by the People's Counsel, County Council, or as requested by any citizen or group of citizens of Harford County."

More to come on this subject but welcome your comments...

Board of Appeals—Public Hearing

MARCH 26, 2014
County Administration Building, Room 2190
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

All Board of Appeals hearings are public hearings; however, if necessary, a part of the meeting may be conducted in closed session.



V-119-13 Syed Ahmad
Request for a variance of 8 feet rear yard depth/width to validate an existing condition and obtain a building permit for a new screened porch and landing with steps at 9507 Greenspring Court, Lanham.

V-11-14 Bardon, Inc.
Request for a variance of 7.5 feet front yard depth to construct a conveyor bridge over McKendree Road at 14801 McKendree Road, Brandywine.

V-12-14 Sadie McIntosh
Request for variance of 11 feet rear yard depth/width to validate and obtain a building permit for a new sunroom at 7208 Purple Avens Avenue, Upper Marlboro.

V-13-14 Neil Zsak
Request for variances of 6 feet front yard depth, an additional 5 feet rear yard depth/width and 4% net lot coverage to validate existing conditions and construct a covered front porch at 5604 Seminole Street, College Park.

V-14-14 Michael Matese & Shannon Morris
Request for a variance of 1 foot side yard width to validate an existing condition and construct a two-story addition and covered porch at 1524 Elson Street, Takoma Park.

V-15-14 Cecilio & Juana Vasquez
Request for a variance of 8.3% net lot coverage to validate an existing condition and construct a second-floor addition and covered deck at 5221 Tilden Road, Bladensburg.