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Judge refuses to postpone Marriottsville zoning hearing


A county circuit judge yesterday rejected an effort to postpone tonight's hearing on a proposed residential, commercial and golfing village in Marriottsville.

Opponents of the Waverly Woods II project had asked the court for an injunction to block the Zoning Board hearing. But Judge Dennis M. Sweeney ruled that they had not shown that the hearing would cause irreparable damage by going forward. The opponents also argued that the board had failed to provide sufficient notice of the hearing, but Sweeney rejected that argument, too.

Opponents argued that the Zoning Board did not follow its own rules of procedure when it adjourned the hearing March 12 without setting a date for continuing the case.

"I think [board Chairman C. Vernon] Gray is being very unfair to the citizens. I don't think he's looking out for our best interests," said Roger D. Hall, spokesman for Citizens Allied for Rational Expansion.

"The petitioner and all his witnesses, they're paid to be there," he said. "It makes it real tough, with a week's notice over a long holiday, to prepare for this sort of thing."

Opponents further complained that people who signed up to testify were not given adequate notice of the new hearing date, and that they were told that it would not be scheduled until July 1.

Robin Regner, administrative assistant to the Zoning Board, said she sent notices last Tuesday to homes of all 200 people who signed up to testify. She also placed an advertisement in Sunday's Howard County Sun.

Deputy County Solicitor Paul Johnson said the board is required to give "reasonable notice," and the board has met that standard. Notice of other hearings has often been less timely than that given for tonight's hearing, he added.

Opponents seeking the injunction said the board violated a rule that allows a hearing to be continued without written notice only if the new time is announced before the hearing is adjourned, Johnson said. It does not bind the board to make such notice, he said.

Two attorneys opposed to the project, Susan Gray of Howard Countians for Responsible Growth and Jan Miller, who lives near the proposed development, had scheduling conflicts with the hearing.

Tonight's hearing in the Banneker Room of the George Howard County Office Building will be the third night of testimony on a menu of zoning changes for 682 rural acres along Marriottsville Road between Interstate 70 and Route 99.

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