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Court petition filed over county rezoning decision

August 04, 2005|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

tarar@herald-mail.com

A Rohrersville resident has asked Washington County Circuit Court to review a recent decision by the Washington County Commissioners to rezone about 250,000 of the county's rural acres.

Thomas Berry of Park Hall Road filed the petition Tuesday in Circuit Court.

Berry states in the petition that it is not clear when the County Commissioners adopted the rezoning proposal and that the commissioners should have held a public hearing on the matter.

"It is requested that the Court remand the action of the Board until they comply with the procedure for public hearings ...," the petition says.

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The county's rezoning plan reduces the number of homes allowed per acre in rural areas. The topic has been controversial among county property owners who claimed the plan would devalue their land by limiting its development potential.

The commissioners voted July 12 to support the rezoning plan. They voted again July 26, formally approving "vomprehensive zoning and comprehensive plan maps and text amendments to the zoning ordinance."

Berry states in the petition that the commissioners voted July 12 under a meeting agenda item labeled "Rural Zoning Updates." The minutes of that meeting state the comprehensive rural area rezoning was approved at that meeting, the petition states.

The July 26 agenda lists the item as "Formal Adoption of Comprehensive Zoning and Comprehensive Plan Maps and Text Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance," the petition states.

Berry claims in the petition that the commissioners didn't follow a section of the Annotated Code of Maryland that states, "a regulation or boundary may not become effective until 10 days after at least one public hearing on the matter."

He also says in the petition that the commissioners should have published notices on the public hearing as required by the Annotated Code.

"The Board of County Commissioners did not follow this procedure. There was no notice of a public hearing 14 days before the hearing. There was no notice in the newspaper once each week for two successive weeks and there was no summary published. There was no hearing. Furthermore, the ordinance may have been voted on under an agenda item listed as an update rather than adoption," Berry states in the petition.

Some county officials said Wednesday that they haven't seen the petition.

County Attorney Richard Douglas said he hasn't received it. Commissioner John C. Munson said he didn't know one was filed.

"I'm not going to comment on Tom Berry," Munson said.

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