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!