Loosing the OPC has left the door open to scores of (nearly 100!) zoning text amendments crafted by some County Council members. These land use changes (some sweeping) often bump up against current master plans and cause communities, many with little resources to defend, detriment. The full description of the role of the People's Counsel from the County Code is here.
Marc.Elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov. The Council still needs to pass this budget item, read on to contact them- and thanks!
MCA received a letter from the MC Civic Federation calling for a return of funding this important position.
You can also take a moment to make your voice heard:
Emails can be brief:
(and please bcc: firstname.lastname@example.org)
I call for return of the People’s Counsel. This is about good governance.
Here is our note sent today:
Fund the Office of the People's Counsel - FY 2023 Operating Budget
Dear County Executive Elrich,
There are compelling reasons to include this in the FY 2023 budget as cited in a strong letter sent to your office yesterday from MCCF. Chief among the reasons listed:
“Furthermore, the County Code requires that prior to introduction, any proposed Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) be reviewed by a ZTA Advisory Group that includes the OPC. One of the reasons often cited by the Planning Department for the complete rewrite of the County's Zoning Ordinance (which was a seven year process) was to discourage the use of Zoning Text Amendments that bypass the master planning and land use public processes. However, since the Zoning Rewrite was adopted, there have been over 100 ZTAs proposed by a small number of Councilmembers. All of the ZTAs were proposed without the benefit of the OPC review.”
The call for return of the People’s Counsel is not new. I had, for example, included it in this 2019 piece in Maryland Matters
In truth, if looking at this from purely a dollars cost, the reestablishment of the position will save much in governmental time and money spent churning over poorly conceived ZTAs etc.
Above all… this is about just and equitable governance.