Monday, January 26, 2009

Planning Board Abuses Public

The way I see it, the Howard County Planning Board owes an apology to everyone who showed up to testify at last Thursday’s public hearing on ZRA 113. A fairly good crowd waited three hours to testify. Only four people were allowed to testify before the board adjourned.

The members of the Planning Board should be ashamed of themselves. The board was originally supposed to devote the first hour of the hearing to questions specifically for General Growth Properties. The public was told that their testimony would start being heard at 7PM.

Public testimony was not taken until 9:40 after a ten minute debate over whether it should be taken at all since they had already determined that they’d adjourn at 10:00 PM.

I have no problem with the Planning Board spending more time with GGP questions. That is their duty. What bothers me it the board never gave any indication as to how long they were going to spend with GGP. They should have realized earlier in the evening that their questioning was going to take longer than originally anticipated and allowed the other residents who came to testify to leave. They had already scheduled another day devoted solely to public testimony so it would not have been that big a deal. They didn’t do that.

Instead we got listen to sometimes utterly banal queries to GGP and its consultants. My personal favorite was when Planning Board member Linda Dombrowski asked the traffic engineer from Wells and Associates if his past traffic projections for the Crescent property had proven accurate in the years since it was conducted. The consultant kindly pointed out to Ms. Dombrowski that they hadn’t because the proposed development on which they were modeled was never built!



Anonymous said...

Ms. Dombrowski's question was whether the background traffic projections had held up, not the traffic from the non-existent projects. It was a perfectly fine question and one which was side-stepped, with no data given in the answer.

I agree that the Planning Board ought not to have taken any public testimony, given the late start, and ought to have let the public know much earlier in the evening that they were not going to do so.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:33 you missed the point entirely.

The plan board should have delayed the entire meeting given the agenda they had in mind.

Instead they dragged dozens of people out into the night to wait hours for no reason.

The lack of respect for residents is astounding.

Anonymous said...

And thanks WB for posting this. It's not often I can enthusiastically support one of your posts and it's good to see that nearly everyone has a baseline understanding of respect.