County Executive Pittman Promotes Greater Public Participation on Development Projects
Annapolis, MD (November 20, 2020) In response to impediments to community input on developments affecting residential neighborhoods, the Office of Planning and Zoning today authorized a series of changes effective immediately that prohibit meetings on county holidays, stagger the start times of meetings in the same Councilmanic districts, and restricts the number of meetings in the same district to two. These changes will make it easier for residents to review project plans and ask questions.
A revised Green Notice #20-11 for Virtual Community Meetings for Development Projects is reflective of both public comments received by the Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ), as well as issues the department has encountered during the development process. The new procedures will apply to all projects submitted for a Community Meeting date and time on or after November 19, 2020. All existing projects that were in process for scheduling or had already scheduled a Community Meeting do not have to comply with the new procedures.
“These common sense changes will encourage public participation by removing scheduling conflicts and giving more advance notice to concerned citizens who want to participate,” said County Executive Pittman. “ It’s about making sure the development process is as transparent as possible and communities aren’t inadvertently pushed out of the loop.”
Highlights of the administrative changes include the following items:
Community meetings on the same night in the same Councilmanic district must be staggered with start times of 6:00 PM or 7:15 PM.
A restriction on hosting two projects in the same Community Meeting. If a project manager wants to cover two projects during the same virtual meeting, then each meeting must have its own unique sign-in link.
Community Meetings are not to be held on County Holidays or during the period December 24-January 1.
Mailed notices will direct the attendees to the County's website for joining information. Links to join and other joining information will no longer be included in all mailed notices.
The applicant or the agent's phone number must be included in the mailed notice in case someone does not have a computer and needs the telephone numbers for joining. This avoids issues if the link needs to be changed prior to the meeting, which has happened in a couple of cases.
For additional information, please see the new checklist of items that must be narratively covered during community meetings.
OPZ Director Steven Kai-Ziegler said, “We believe these changes to the procedures are more fair to communities and they will go a long way toward solving problems routinely encountered by community members who want to play an active role in the process.”