The Howard County Planning Board held hearings on the Settlement at Savage over five different days and a total of 16 hours.
In the end, it took the Board the most of 40 minutes of work-session to decide a case that took 16 hours and five days to present. It spent 2.5 minutes for every hour of case testimony. Thousands of pages of evidence was presented and none of these pages were considered during the work-session.
None of it mattered.
In the end, the vote was 4-0 for the developer.
It turns out that the community had NO chance because it was a predetermined outcome. It left me speechless as the Board voted. None of the issues raised during the trial proceedings were raised. At all. The Board took less time to decide the case than it would to make a selection from a dinner menu.
It was all a show.
If the board approves this plan as it is, it can compel those who review the land-swap and alternative compliance petition to approve the requests since the department of planning and zoning (DPZ) recommended approval assuming the approval of those requests. This creates a bias toward a certain outcome.
As someone who lives in a district surrounded by a large swath of M1/M2 zoned area, the health and safety risk to District 3 residents concerns me and every effort should be made to strengthen existing regulations to protect the health and safety of residents living near existing M1/M2 zoned regions. If the County Executive is confident that no commercial mulching will take place then he should have no problem with the proposals made in ZRA 160.
We know the pernicious effects of money in politics. Well-intentioned candidates are forced to focus on raising money to cover expensive campaigns by spending time with interest groups instead of talking to their constituents. Even though once a candidate for office gets elected, his or her salary is paid by the constituents, we expect them to come up with thousands of dollars or in cases of federal elections millions on their own to be in a position to serve us. This is a skewed incentive system that we can begin to correct with this bill.