From Gina Kazimir:
I wanted to share this with The Dagger readers. I was one of many people who spoke against proposed Bill 14-21 at the County Council hearing on Tuesday. As a private citizen this Bill concerns me, as Candidate for County Council in District C it embarrasses me. I sincerely hope that the current Council members will not just hear but listen to the voices of the citizens and not abdicate their responsibilities to the public. Gina Kazimir, Candidate for County Council District C
President Boniface and members of the Council:
Bill 14-21 is an egregious dereliction of duty on the part of the Council. That so many of our current Council members co-sponsored this bill is a sad statement on the value they place on both the responsibilities members have been elected to carry out, and on protecting the rights of real people in the County.
This Bill would make Harford County the ONLY Maryland County with no appeals board. It would make it prohibitive for an average citizen to have any recourse to the decisions of the Hearing Examiner – a position which is not elected and is not accountable to the citizenry. And it would be an abdication by the Council of one of their fundamental responsibilities to their constituents.
Some members of the Council are claiming that this Bill is necessary to allow Council members to speak freely with constituents on zoning issues that might possibly go to the Hearing Examiner. With all due respect, that statement is misleading at best. Two years ago, that issue was addressed in Bill 12-33, which contained a clarification amendment that expanded Council members’ ability to speak with constituents on zoning issues. That amendment was voted on by the people who elected this Council, approved and is a current part of the Harford County Charter, so there is no reason for any Council member not to speak to any constituent on any zoning issue that is not before the Hearing Examiner.
Under the current county charter, the Council sets the zoning law and oversees all changes that occur through time, including Comprehensive Rezoning and piecemeal rezoning requests. Eliminating the Board of Appeals means taking away citizens’ rights to have elected representatives enforce the rules they themselves have enacted. It removes the ability of most of our citizens to have their viewpoint duly considered. The fact is, most people cannot afford the costs of going to court, costs which must be paid by the party filing the appeal. And the court can only rule on whether or not a case was properly handled; it cannot do anything to modify a decision to ensure that land use truly reflects the County’s development plans, as well as the community’s wishes.
Do the current members of the Council really want to abdicate their responsibility to their community? How is it fair to the citizens of the county to force them to pay to disagree?
We still, at least in theory, run our country on the basis of a government that is, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “by the people, of the people, for the people.” Not a government by courts and lawyers, or one by or for developers. Yet that is just what this bill would give us. Bill 14-21 is a mistake, and I urge every Council member who has sponsored it to withdraw their support and put it where it belongs – with the real people who elected them.