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City Eyes More Control Over Zoning

County zoning hearing notice (Flickr)

In an attempt to have more local control over zoning decisions inside the city, the City council has proposed an ordinance in this week’s council meeting.

Titled “Additional zoning authority pursuant to CB-16-2010”, the proposed ordinance, would give the City the ability  to take on a couple of additional powers.

Currently, Prince George’s County maintains controls over most of the zoning related matters – either the Zoning Hearing Examiners’ office or the Planning Board.

The proposed ordinance would allow more direct local control over these decisions.

According to the City, those additional powers will include “review of alternative compliance from landscaping requirements, certification, revocation, and revision of nonconforming uses, and minor changes to approved special exceptions.”

In most cases, requests for review under any of these items would go before the City’s Advisory Planning Commission(APC), which would make a recommendation, which could then be accepted by the City Council or brought up for review.

In some cases, including minor changes to approved special exceptions, which would not add more than 10% to the land covered by a structure, the City planning staff could decide whether to grant the change, but this decision would be subject to review of the City Council if requested.

“I believe that this ordinance would bring more local control and accountability to these zoning decisions – by placing them in the hand of local elected officials and City residents on the Advisory Planning Commission.”– commented District 1 council member Patrick Wojahn.

There are however concerns from some residents on the proposed changes.

“The City is already too restrictive and controlling and that’s why residents have to “apply for variances and permits.” – said one resident commenting on the additional power at the City’s hand.

Others have questioned if the City has additional qualified staff to oversee the additional zoning administration and how much it will cost the City additionally.

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