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Glendening signs local bill

May 27, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Zoning decisions will be streamlined for Washington County residents, thanks to a bill signed Thursday, according to Del. Robert McKee, R-Washington.

Gov. Parris Glendening signed House Bill 661, the last of the locally sponsored bills to be signed, said McKee, chairman of the Washington County Delegation.

The bill allows the County Commissioners to designate a zoning official who may grant some zoning adjustments without a Board of Appeals decision.

Washington County Planning Director Robert Arch said the law will let some residents get variances without going through the hearing process.

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"It was something that has been advocated for a while to lessen the work load on the Board of Appeals," he said.

Residents who don't agree with zoning decisions may still file appeals.

A resolution creating a committee to study making South Mountain Battlefield a state park was signed Thursday by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and Senate President Thomas Mike Miller.

House Joint Resolution 12 establishes a task force on the South Mountain Battlefield Historic Tourism Initiative and requires the task force to report its findings to the General Assembly by Jan. 19, 2000.

The Washington County Delegation unanimously supported the resolution. Civil War buffs said making the battlefield a state park elevates its status in history, and tourism officials believe it will contribute to economic development.

The resolution did not require the governor's signature.

Last month, the governor signed House Bill 961, allowing the county to license home builders and require performance bonds of them.

The Home Builders Association of Washington County requested the legislation through the County Commissioners. The association believes a license law provides better protection for consumers and contractors, according to President Jim Fahey.

"This would weed out some of the bad apples," he said in February.

Maryland does not license builders, but it does license home improvement contractors. Proponents of the bill said it would allow the county to more closely regulate the industry, adding to local control. The governor signed it April 27.

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