Board of Appeals FAQs
The following Frequently Asked Questions focuses on concerns citizens coming before the Board of Appeals should be aware of before filing an appeal or being a party to an appeal before the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals. They are points of interest from observations at Board hearings and in no way should be considered legal advice. One should seek legal counsel for information concerning one’s particular circumstances.
What is the Board of Appeals?
The Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body that hears appeals from the decisions of the Administrative Hearing Officer and County agencies.
What laws govern the Board of Appeals?
The Anne Arundel County Code contains most of the laws that govern the Board of Appeals. The Board of Appeals’ Rules of Practice and Procedure can be found in Appendix B of the Anne Arundel County Code. The Maryland Code and the Code of Maryland Regulations are also applicable.
The applicable laws and regulations can be found online at the following web addresses:
Mailing Address: Arundel Center, 44 Calvert Street, P.O. Box 2700, Annapolis, MD 21404
Phone Number: (410) 222-1119
Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.
How is an appeal filed with the Board of Appeals?
Instructions on how to file an appeal can be found on the Board’s website or by calling the Board directly at (410) 222-1119.
Two clerks are available to accept appeals, answer questions, and schedule hearings. They cannot provide legal advice regarding any appeal. They do not provide document copying or other administrative services to the public.
The clerks also publish hearing notifications in the Gazette and Capital newspapers so the general public is aware of an appeal. This is done for two consecutive weeks in advance of a hearing.
The Board’s files are open to the public, but arrangements should be made to see them due to staff workload and availability.
Hearings are usually scheduled three times per week on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Only one case is heard at each hearing and the Board meets for approximately two hours. Additional hearings may be scheduled depending on the Board’s workload. Board hearing schedules can change, but parties of record to the appeal will be notified accordingly.
Hearings are held in the Anne Arundel Center at 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, MD 21401 in the County Council Chambers unless other business is being conducted there. Then, hearings are held in Room 160.
What is administrative information?
This term includes the list of property owners and mailing addresses within 175 feet of the subject property, Councilmanic District number, copies of permits and the address and description of the property. This information must be submitted within 30 calendar days of filing the appeal.
This information is not required for Personnel cases, Animal Control cases, or appeals from the Administrative Hearing Officer (As it is included in the file transferred from the Administrative Hearing Office).
Who can appeal to the Board of Appeals?
A person aggrieved by a decision of the Administrative Hearing Officer who was a party to the proceedings may appeal the decision to the Board of Appeals.” Anne Arundel County Code § 3-1-104(a).
The Office of Planning and Zoning can also appeal a decision to the Board of Appeals. See Anne Arundel County Code § 3-1-104(b).
A person aggrieved by, or an officer, department, board, commission, or agency of the County affected by, any decision of an officer or an employee of the executive branch of the County government.” Anne Arundel County Code § 3-1-104(c).
What matters can be heard by the Board of Appeals?
The Board of Appeals may hear appeals from decisions of all County agencies, any administrative decision made by Anne Arundel County as well as decisions from the Administrative Hearing Officer.
This Board does not hear property tax appeals. The Property Tax Appeals Board is a separate department and can be reached at (410) 974-2374.
Hearings before the Board of Appeals are “de novo”, Latin for anew; afresh; again; from the beginning. The Board members have no knowledge of the case prior to the hearing. Anything that transpired or took place before the Administrative Hearing Officer, Personnel, Planning & Zoning, Animal Control, or anyone else is not automatically presented to the Board for the applicant’s appeal. The applicant and/or protestant, even a County representative, has to present their case anew.
Who will be present at the hearing?
In addition to the Board Members, a Clerk to the Board, the Board’s counsel, and a court reporter will be present. The County will usually have at least one representative at the hearing, and anyone who is in favor of or against the appeal may be present, with their counsel representing any of the above.
What is the order of presentation at a hearing?
Only one case is heard at each hearing. The Board meets for approximately two hours.
Generally, the hearing will begin with the parties’ opening statements, unless opening statements are waived. The Petitioner has the opportunity to present his/her case first. Then, Protestants of record present their case. The County presents its case last. If the parties agree, the order of presentation may be changed in order to expedite matters.
Each party is given the opportunity to ask questions about the testimony given and evidence presented during the hearing. Statements are then heard from interested citizens in the audience, who are not parties to the case. The Petitioner is given the chance for rebuttal. The Petitioner, Protestant and County have the opportunity to present closing arguments in the same order as their opening statements.
How long does it take for the Board of Appeals to make a decision on a case?
Generally, the Board does not render decisions at the hearing.
The Board of Appeals will render a written opinion within 60 days of the date of the last hearing, site visit, or written closing argument, whichever occurs last, unless additional time becomes necessary. The Clerk to the Board of Appeals will send out written notice if additional time is needed.
Can I get a copy of a Board of Appeals decision?
Yes, the Board’s decisions are sent out to parties who sign in at the hearing. If an individual did not attend the hearing or failed to sign in, decisions are available by email or paper copy at the Board’s office at a cost of $.25 per page. Recent decisions are available on the Board's website.
How much does it cost to file an appeal?
It depends on the type of appeal. Generally, the cost of an appeal is $250.00. (Appendix B, Rule 2-103)
Can I have witnesses to substantiate my appeal?
Parties may have witnesses to support their case. These witnesses will present sworn testimony and can be questioned or cross-examined by the parties and Board Members.
Those at the hearing will also have an opportunity to have a say on a particular case, and they too may be questioned after their testimony.
All witnesses will be asked to print their names, addresses and email addresses, and identify themselves for the record. This also allows the clerks to send information about the hearing/appeal as well as receive a copy of the decision.
If legal counsel is assisting with the case, it is very common for them to call paid expert witnesses to meet the burden of proof in the case.
Is legal counsel required to appeal a case?
In view of the cost to appeal and possible costly ramifications of the Board’s decision, one may want to seek legal counsel to represent them before the Board in certain circumstances.
Legal counsel is not required, however.
Is it possible to attend a hearing before my case comes before the Board?
Yes, hearings are open to the public. So if one is going to appeal a case and has never attended a Board of Appeals hearing, it’s a good idea to attend a hearing to see how the Board operates.
Board hearings, while formal, are more relaxed than a court, and there is no “discovery” from a legal sense.
 Discovery: The entire efforts of a party to a lawsuit and his/her/its attorneys to obtain information before trial through demands for production of documents, depositions of parties and potential witnesses, written interrogatories (questions and answers written under oath), written requests for admissions of fact, examination of the scene and the petitions and motions employed to enforce discovery rights.
How much time do I have to submit an appeal?
Appeals may be filed within thirty calendar days (not business days) of the date of the offending decision in most cases (see Board Rules). After thirty days, the Board no longer has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the appeal. Weekends are included in the 30-day count. It is the responsibility of the applicant to check the County Code for the filing deadline concerning their appeal.
What do I need to bring to a hearing?
You will need to bring with you all relevant documentation regarding your appeal that would be useful to the Board in making its decision.
It is advisable to have one’s case organized with proper papers, times and dates of events, and any other information that is pertinent to present their case. People have flown in to the area from distant states only to be very disappointed to discover that they did not have the proper paperwork or know the hearing procedures. So it behooves applicants to be organized.
Timelines of events of the case can be very useful - that is from the beginning of the problem or process until the time the case is heard before the Board. What happened, when did it happen (or not happen in some cases), where did it happen, who was involved (specific names of individuals), how did it happen, why the applicant thinks it did or did not happen, surveys of the property, etc. is very useful in processing a case.
Do the Board Members conduct a site visit of the property?
Generally, the Board Members will conduct a site visit of the property that is the subject of the appeal. No one is permitted to communicate with Board Members during the site visit.
What is a variance?
A variance is a modification of the specific requirements of the Anne Arundel County Zoning Ordinance relating to the location and/or size of a structure or use.
What is a rezoning?
It is a request for a more or less restrictive classification than allowed in the same district or one or more districts.
What is a Critical Area reclassification or declassification?
It is the changing of the Critical Area land use classification(s) of a parcel of land to another Critical Area land use classification(s). There are three Critical Area classifications: IDA-Intensely Developed Area, LDA-Limited Development Area and RCA-Resource Conservation Area.
What is a special exception?
A special exception is a use permitted within a zoning district, but subject to certain, specific conditions, i.e., the location, nature, height of building, wall or fence will be compatible with appropriate and orderly development of the district in which it is located.
What is a nonconforming Use?
Typically, it is a use that was permitted by the zoning ordinance when it came into existence, but has since become prohibited under a subsequent zoning ordinance.
Additional information regarding special exceptions, variances, zoning, and nonconforming use can be found at the following websites:
For questions regarding zoning issues, please contact the Office of Planning and Zoning directly at (410) 222-7437.