Frequently Asked Questions

The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body that hears appeals from the decisions of Administration Hearing Officer and other County agencies.

Learn about the appeals process before arriving to the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals. Citizen should be aware of the process before filing an appeal or being a party to an appeal before the Board of Appeals.

The items listed below 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.

  • The Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body that hears appeals from the decisions of the Administrative Hearing Officer and other County agencies. Quasi-judicial bodies make findings of fact and apply the pertinent municipal law to those facts to reach a conclusion, just as a court would do. 
  • The Board renders final decisions on appeals related to zonings, licenses, permits, and executive, administrative and adjudicatory orders. 
  • Powers and functions of the County Board of Appeals. (a) In General. The County Board of Appeals shall perform its functions as a board that is independent of both the legislative and executive branches of the County government. Charter, Sec. 602
  • The Board considers testimony and evidence presented in a case and makes decisions based on the facts, the law and legal precedent. The Board functions most like a court of law. The Board must follow the provisions of the Code and their Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Board cannot alter procedures or base their decisions on popular opinion, petitions, complaints 
    or testimony that is not relevant to the Code pertaining to the instant case. The Board of Appeals is not a board of equity.
  • 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.
  • Instructions on how to file an appeal can be found here or by contacting the office 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 publish hearing notifications in the Gazette and Capital newspapers, and on the County’s website, 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 please schedule an appointment to view files to ensure staff availability.
  • Hearings are usually scheduled three times per week: on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, all at 5:00 PM. Only one case is heard at each hearing. Additional hearings may be scheduled depending on the complexity of cases. The Board’s hearing schedule can change, but parties of record to the appeal will be notified accordingly, and changes are reflected on the Board’s website.
  • Hearings are held in the Anne Arundel Center at 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, MD 21401 in Council Chambers or Room 160.
  • The Board meets for approximately three (3) hours per hearing.
  • This term includes the list of property owners and mailing addresses within 175 feet of the subject property, the Councilmanic District number, copies of permits, and the address and description of the subject property. This information must be submitted within 30 calendar days of filing the appeal.
  • This information is not required for Personnel cases, Animal Control, or appeals from the Administrative Hearing Officer (as it is included in the file transferred from the Administrative Hearing Office).
  • Contact the Office of Planning and Zoning (410) 222-7437 and ask to speak to the Planner of the day in order to receive instructions on how to obtain the list of property owners  or by using the Community Meetings Property Details Viewer which has instructions on how to generate a list of owners within 175 feet or 300 feet of a property or area in the About section on the right under Public Notification Tool.
  • Find the Councilmanic District number here.
  • “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. 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).
  • Multiple appellants may file one appeal and contribute to one fee. A list of
    appellants with their contact information may be attached to the Notice of
    Appeal when filed.
  • The Board of Appeals hears appeals from decisions of County agencies,
    including decisions from the Administrative Hearing Officer.
  • This Board does not hear property tax appeals. The Property Tax Appeals
    Board is a separate State 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 and Zoning, Animal Control, or other County agency 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.
  • Exhibits do not convey from hearings that took place prior to the Board’s
    hearing. Any exhibits presented at hearings below must be presented a new to the Board at their hearing.
  • In addition to the Board Members, a Clerk to the Board, the Board’s Counsel, and a court reporter. 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 counsel representing any of the above.
  • All hearings are open to the public.
  • Only one case is heard at each hearing.
  • Generally, the hearing will begin with the parties’ opening statements, unless opening statements are waived. The Petitioner has the opportunity to present his/her/their case, first. Then, Protestants of record (if any) present their case. Next, the County presents its position. Any audience members, who have not previously testified speak next. After the audience is finished, the Petitioner is permitted to present rebuttal. The hearings conclude with closing argument by all parties to the appeal, in order of presentation.
  • The Board may designate a different order of presentation. Postponement and withdrawal requests and any motions, such as motions to dismiss, are typically heard first.
  • Each party is given the opportunity to cross examine opposing witnesses regarding the testimony given and evidence presented during the hearing.
  • 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 on a case, 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.
  • 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 at the Board’s office for $.50 per page or sent by email. Recent Board decisions are available on the Board’s website. 
  • It depends on the type of appeal. Please see the Instructions here.
  • Generally, the cost of an appeal is$250.00, $400.00, or up to $1,000.00. *

* Appendix B, Rule 2-103

  • 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. 
  • Members of the public will also have an opportunity to testify on a particular case, and they too may be cross-examined after their testimony. 
  • The Board does not accept written letters or emails as testimony prior to or in lieu of in-person, sworn testimony at the public hearing.
  • All witnesses will be required to provide their names, addresses, email addresses, and identify themselves for the record. 
  • It is very common for parties to present expert witnesses to meet their burden of proof in their 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. 
  • Legal counsel is not required, however it may be beneficial especially for complex appeals.
  • Yes, hearings are open to the public. If you have or are considering filing an appeal or are simply interested in a case, we welcome you to attend a hearing. 
  • To make certain that the Board is conducting a scheduled hearing you wish to attend, you may call the Board’s office to confirm that the matter is proceeding or check the Board’s online calendar
  • Board hearings, while formal, are more relaxed than a court, and there is no “discovery” ** from a legal sense. 
  • Please do not bring food or drink to a hearing. All electronic devices must be turned off or silent during the hearing.
  • Familiarize yourself with the regulations governing your type of appeal and be ready to show how your request meets those regulations or how the applicant’s request does not meet those regulations.
  • Please organize your case with proper papers, times and dates of events, and any other information that you would like to present to the Board. Keep in mind that material that is not relevant to the proceedings may not be admissible.
  • 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.

** 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.

  • 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.
Any appeal from the decision must be in accordance with the provisions of Section 604 of the Charter of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 
 Sec. 604. Appeals from decisions of the Board.
        Within thirty days after any decision by the County Board of Appeals is rendered, any person aggrieved by the decision of the Board and a party to the proceedings before it may appeal such decision to the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County, which shall have power to affirm the decision of the Board, or if such decision is not in accordance with law, to modify or reverse such decision, with or without remanding the case for rehearing, as justice may require. Within thirty days after the decision of the Circuit Court is rendered any party to the proceeding who is aggrieved thereby may appeal such decision to the Appellate Court of Maryland. The review proceedings provided by this section shall be exclusive.
(Bill No. 80-72; Res. No. 18-06)

  • 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.
  • It is a request to change the zone of a property from one district to another, i.e. from the R1-Residential District to the R2-Residential District or from the R2-Residential District to the C1-Commercial District.
  • It is a request to change the Critical Area land use classification(s) of a parcel of land to another Critical Area land use classification(s) or remove the property from the Critical Area. There are three Critical Area classifications: 10 IDA-Intensely Developed Area, LDA-Limited Development Area and RCA Resource Conservation Area.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • All other appeals that do not fall in into the categories above are $250.00. These are Animal Control, Personnel, building permits, modifications, subdivisions and site plans. Grading permit appeals are $400.00.