In an effort to boost community engagement, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman is implementing changes to the development process.
The changes include limiting meetings in the same councilmanic district to two per day, staggering start times when two meetings do occur and prohibiting development meetings from being held on county holidays.
The changes apply to all projects that submit for a community meeting after Nov. 19. Projects that were already scheduled or were in the process of scheduling do not have to comply with the new procedures, according to a release from Pittman’s office.
“These common-sense changes will encourage public participation by removing scheduling conflicts and giving more advance notice to concerned citizens who want to participate,” Pittman said. “It’s about making sure the development process is as transparent as possible and communities aren’t inadvertently pushed out of the loop.”
Planning Officer Steve Kaii- Ziegler said he thinks the changes will make procedures fairer to residents and “will go a long way toward solving problems routinely encountered by community members who want to play an active role in the process.”
The updated green notice also prohibits any meetings from being held from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1.
Residents will be mailed information about the meetings that pertain to them, including guidance on how to join the virtual meeting, Pittman said in the release. A phone number for the project applicant or agent hosting the meeting will be included in the mailed information in case a resident doesn’t have access to the internet and needs the telephone number to join the meeting.
Development meetings moved online in mid-June, when Pittman rolled back a previous COVID-19 related executive order that prevented all community meetings. Due to the highly contagious virus, the meetings can’t take place in the typically required five-mile distance from the development site, but they were able to resume through virtual broadcast. The only way community meetings can be held outside of the five-mile radius of the development site is if the planning officer approves the change in writing.
At the meetings, applicants are required to go through a long list of items with community members, including whether the project is a public capital improvement project or privately owned; existing and proposed ownership of the land; whether it is in the Critical Area and the designation if it is; the property’s zoning and zoning overlay designations; type of proposed water service; and any proposed mitigation to offset the impact to each environmental feature.