We Harford Countians are about to lose a very important right – the right to know why the Zoning Administrator (ZA) made a decision that may harm our property. This right to an Interpretation is a right we have today that will be taken away if Bill 08-44 (the new zoning code) is passed as presently written.
Under Harford’s zoning code today, if I believe a mistake has been made by the ZA and his mistake will harm my property, I can write him a letter asking for an “interpretation”. I can’t just complain because I don’t like something. First, I must live near the property that is the problem, close enough that common sense says that my property will be harmed. Second, my letter must cite the part of the zoning code that I think is being violated and the specific facts that cause me to believe a mistake has been made.
Section 267-7 of today’s zoning code says that the ZA then owes me a written explanation (“interpretation”) of how he made that decision. However, the County Executive’s ZA has rewritten Section 267-7 to take away interested citizens’ rights to receive interpretations.
Why? Surely the county can spare a few minutes to respond to the one or two interpretation requests from interested citizens that typically arrive in a year. Anyone can make a mistake, and the important thing is to find the mistake and fix it. Not take away the neighbors’ ability to protect their property.
Section 267-7 of Harford’s new zoning code, as proposed in Bill 08-44, must be restored to the way it is in today’s zoning code. Otherwise we lose our right to hold the ZA accountable for harmful mistakes and the mistakes won’t be corrected.
That’s just wrong.
We need to convince the County Council to restore the rights that the ZA wants to take away. If you want to keep your right to Interpretations, you need to stand up and say so at the County Council’s public hearing Tuesday (September 16th) from 6:00 – 7:30 in the “black box” building at 212 S. Bond St, Bel Air.
It would be wrong to lose our rights.