From William Wehland:
The Harford County’s Council Zoning Hearing Examiner’s Decision (Case No. 5781) on July 8, 2013 recommending approval of the Special Development Request by Evergreen Business Trust to permit a Planned Residential Development (PRD) for 198 Apartments at Plumtree and Route 24 was completely contrary to the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning recommending that it be denied. The rationale by the Planning and Zoning Department in their report dated January 17, 2013 clearly showed that the Developer had not provided a revised Traffic Impact Analysis as requested and they had not adequately addressed Section 267-9I of the code and other requests for additional information.
Despite the denial request by the Department of Planning and Zoning and the testimony provided to the Hearing Examiner by the public and representatives for the Department of Planning and Zoning, the Hearing Examiner’s decision was clearly skewed and completely written in favor of the Applicant/Developer. The Examiner accepted and agreed with all testimony by the witnesses for the Applicant whom he described as “experts” in their fields while down grading and contradicting the testimony given by representatives for the Department of Planning and Zoning.
On page 19 of the Examiner’s report he is quoted as follows: “Despite the brouhaha concerning the traffic analysis, it is found that there is no requirement in the Board’s review of a special development or special exception that Harford County be given sufficient information by an Applicant to allow Harford County to come to a particular conclusion.” This is an erroneous statement! If it were true, why did he not inform all parties prior to testimony? Traffic was a major topic of testimony given and the Examiner allowed the testimony by both sides. Additionally, he states, “The opening of Tollgate Road through the subject property would, if anything, allow traffic to flow more readily and freely and should decrease traffic congestion in the area. Indeed, this was a point made by Mr. Schmid, and neither the Department of Planning and Zoning nor any Protestant contradicted his opinion.” This is not true as testimony was given that did contradict several comments made by Mr. Schmid. Secondly, logic dictates that traffic congestion cannot decrease in an area where an additional 198 apartments are proposed.
In my opinion this case is about traffic, safety, and related projects in the vicinity and so much more. Because it was a Zoning Appeals hearing it can be possibly stopped if the public opposes it. The Hearing Examiner’s ruling can be appealed and that would push it to the County Council, sitting as The Board of Appeals, for a final decision after hearing Final Arguments. The County Council does have the authority to reject it for lawful reasons.
The deadline for an appeal of the Hearing Examiner’s decision is August 5, 2013.
An official copy of the Hearing Examiner’s decision can be found at www.harfordcountymd.gov/Council/ZoningDecisions.cfm