Changes To Zoning Powers of the County Council Under Consideration
I am writing to inform you of an important and time-sensitive topic regarding the County Council’s power over zoning matters.
As you may already know, zoning is the legal power of the government to regulate the use of private property for the purpose of protecting public health, safety, and welfare. In Prince George’s County, this power is delegated to, and exercised by, the County Council, sitting as the District Council. The link between planning and zoning is critical.
Currently, there are two bills before the County Council that would significantly change the Council’s ability to be responsive to the community’s concerns regarding zoning:
• CB-91-2022 will amend the Zoning Ordinance rules for enacting amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to require a supermajority vote (8 votes) instead of the longstanding simple majority (6 votes). For years, the Council has governed using a simple majority. Efforts to make zoning amendments harder to pass with a supermajority would threaten the Council’s ability to be responsive to community concerns.
• CB-92-2022 will amend the new Zoning Ordinance to prohibit the County Council from choosing to hear zoning and site plan cases from the Planning Board and Zoning Hearing Examiner. Zoning hearings have been a vehicle for the community to express their concerns. If enacted, there will be no hearings for the community, and only appeals will come before the Council in limited circumstances. Developers have long wanted to eliminate public hearings to avoid accountability. This would significantly cut out the public from the Zoning Process.
I am deeply concerned by these bills. These bills are scheduled to be heard before the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee tomorrow, Thursday, September 15th. I encourage all residents to voice their concerns during this meeting.
If you are interested in testifying or submitting public comments regarding these pieces of legislation, you must sign up to do so before 3 PM today, Wednesday, September 14th.
CLICK HERE to sign up to testify or submit public comment on CB-91-2022 and CB-92-2022.
If you need assistance navigating the sign-up process, contact our office at 301-952-3860 and we can provide assistance.
Edward Burroughs III
Prince George’s County Council, District 8
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This past Tuesday, Council Chair Hawkins and Council Member Franklin presented two bills they hope will prevent the incoming Council Majority from enacting positive, community-centered zoning legislation or hearing most zoning cases.
Their bill, CB-91-2022 will amend the new Zoning Ordinance rules for enacting amendments to the Zoning Ordinance so as to require a Supermajority vote (8 votes) instead of the longstanding simple majority (6 votes). Hawkins and Franklin, in collaboration with other Council Members, have adopted countless developer-friendly amendments to the Zoning Ordinance based on a simple majority vote. Now, they want to change the rules for an incoming Council Majority that they know will be accountable to the community instead of developers.
CB-92-2022 will amend the new Zoning Ordinance to prohibit the County Council from choosing to hear zoning and site plan cases from the Planning Board and Zoning Hearing Examiner. For decades, zoning hearings have been a vehicle for the community to express their concerns. If enacted, there will be no hearings for the community, and only appeals will come before the council in limited circumstances. Developers have long wanted to eliminate public hearings to avoid accountability. In another anti-democratic move regularly used by Hawkins and Franklin, CB-91-2022 & CB-92-2022 are being rushed through the legislative process to avoid public awareness and scrutiny. ALL Zoning Bills must be “Introduced” by Tuesday, September 20th. These bills were presented Tuesday and have to be heard by the “PHED Committee”, next week. The September 15th Committee meeting has been announced, giving only 7 days’ notice for major land use policy changes that will dramatically harm citizen rights. This committee’s members include current Council Members Mel Franklin, Calvin Hawkins, Todd Turner, Sydney Harrison. Many of this group of Council Members have a track record of trying to enact legislation that favors special interests groups over community stakeholders, always without community input, sometimes illegally as recent history has shown. The lack of notice undermines the community’s ability to plan to speak out
What can we do about it?
Progressive Maryland & PG Changemakers are working together to get the word out to the community so that we can stand up to these members and let them know we oppose Council Bills 91 & 92 that seek to, once again, silence the voice and usurp the will of the voters by using our system of democracy to cater to developers and their own political power instead of their constituents.
Sign up to testify or submit comments. The deadline to sign up to testify, submit your testimony in opposition to the bills, or send in comments is September 14, at 3 p.m. EDT. CLICK TO SIGN UP TO TESTIFY
Add your voice by signing this petition. Share it with a friend and ask them to sign and pass it along. If the former Council Majority’s failed attempt at illegal redistricting taught us anything, it is that when enough of us stand up together in solidarity and demand that our elected representatives do what’s in the best interest of the people of this County, we WIN! CLICK TO SIGN THE PETITION
Send a pre-filled email or craft one of your own to your Council Member, the County Executive, and your At-Large members to demand that they stand up for democracy in Prince George’s and stop the passage of CB-91 & CB-92! CLICK TO EMAIL YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER
Please make sure to take action immediately and to share this email. We need to share these actions far and wide so that the community has a chance to stand up against yet another egregious abuse of power.
The Progressive Maryland & PG Changemakers Teams