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Board of Appeals Hearing Halted

An Elkridge business owner said the Department of Planning and Zoning failed to adequately inform him on parking lot issue.

Updated with editor's note

A hearing about an Elkridge business came to a halt Monday in what officials said reflected a staffing problem in the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ).

On Feb. 6, Brian Wilson, owner of , appeared before the Howard County hearing examiner in Ellicott City to defend his right to use part of his property as a parking lot, stating that it was historically used as such.

The DPZ prepared a report, dated Jan. 30, detailing why Wilson was in violation of the acceptable use for his land, which it said did not include using it as a commercial lot.

Thomas Meachum, the lawyer representing community members opposing Wilson, presented photos from the DPZ's report as exhibits.

"I've never seen any of this before," said Wilson.

Many of his clients had obtained copies of the report, according to Meachum, who said that Wilson could have asked for one.

Wilson said he didn't know about the report's existence.

"This seems quite objectionable," said Wilson, of the fact that he said he was never given notice of the report about his property. "This could change my whole approach" [in arguing].

The hearing examiner agreed that a mistake had been made.

“You should have been the first person who got a copy,” Howard County hearing examiner Michele LeFaivre told Wilson.

Ultimately, LeFaivre moved to postpone the hearing. 

"Governments make mistakes," she said. "That's why we have these hearings."

She admitted that oversights were not uncommon in this branch of government.

"Given the volume of work and the level of staffing, sometimes these things get mixed up," she said.

Meachum, a Columbia-based attorney specializing in zoning and development, did not appear satisfied by that response.

"You should talk to DPZ about getting their material out," said Meachum, visibly frustrated. "It happens with decisions and orders. It happens with staff reports. They're falling down on the job."

A Howard County spokesman cited hiring freezes as a factor.

“I'm told by the DPZ director that all work gets completed, but sometimes zoning work takes longer than in the past—due to the hiring freezes that have been in place over the past several years,” said Kevin Enright, spokesman for the Howard County government.

After more than 90 minutes of testimony, the hearing about Elkridge Motors came to a standstill. LeFaivre moved to postpone the hearing, despite the DPZ's request to continue it. 

LeFaivre assured the approximately 30 people who showed up for the Feb. 6 hearing that the new hearing date would take place in the next two weeks and would not fall on Valentine's Day.

"I did that last year and I never heard the end of it," LeFaivre said.

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Editor's Note: The lawyer in the case contacted Elkridge Patch to clarify that his comment that the planning department was "falling down on the job" was said in a satirical tone. As a result, the headline containing that quote has been changed. 

Rosie R. February 27, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Tired of trying to get T car to READ the documents. I guess reading skills are as strong as his spelling and people skills. Maybe his relative who lives in Elkridge can explain it to him. I suggest using really small words... to go with his small mind. And probably big ass, which, even if boiled in bleach and Lysol, I will never kiss. I hope the actual issue gets resolves to everyone in ELKRIDGE'S satisfaction, and Mr. Wilson can keep doing great business, be able to maintain his property rights, and set an example for all of us by taking the higher road through proper procedures.
T car February 27, 2012 at 01:22 AM
just remember rosie r. this is my opinion and only my opinion.
T car February 27, 2012 at 04:40 AM
to rosie r. or how ever you are this is my opinions and i am sorry if you do not like them or my spelling but i have every right to my opinions as do you and as for your personal attacs on me you do not know me at all so i think you shold think be for you open your mouth about me you do not have a clue as to the kind of person i am i am not small minded i just hate to see the elkridge i know go to crap i do not know how long you have lived in elkridge but that shop never looked like that up to the 90's and yes i know the issue is a zoning issue and it sounds like you are the biggest bully on this page and unlike you i do not care if every one knows my name but thanks for putting it out there i am done with you you are not worth my time.
T car February 27, 2012 at 04:49 AM
the issue is he is trying to tell the zonning bord that thare have always been cars parked on the lower lot and that is just not true that is the issue.
Rosie R. February 27, 2012 at 11:46 AM
T car, you put your name out there first, and then removed it! YOU are the bully as is proved with what you say is your "opinion" about Mr. Wilson's defense of his property rights and then verbally attacking me. I have NEVER attacked you personally, but just made it clear that you have what I and others see as a personal interest in this matter. Your opinion did not address the issues and all I have stated is that Mr. Wilson has the right to pursue what he believes is the truth. I do understand that you and others do not like the way his property looks, and having driven by it recently, see he has made great strides in making it look better for his neighbors and community, although at this point he really has no legal obligation to do so. In my opinion, you spelling is an attack on the English language. Maybe the taxpayers money would be better spent on improving the public school system in Elkridge, instead of what in my OPINION is persecuting a tax-paying businessman who is involved in his community. Good day, T car... I said GOOD DAY!

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