RALE asks you to help maintain the pressure to restore our appellate rights

Following up…

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The community has really responded well to our efforts to convince the Delegation to reverse the 2013 DRRA law that took away our appellate rights. More than 80 emails have been sent to each of the District 4 delegates!

Last Friday, however, they allowed the developers’ lobbyists additional time to argue their case. Now the Delegation is supposed to make a final vote this Friday about whether to support the bill proposed by County Executive Jan Gardner. We need them to accept the bill AS IS and to move it forward ASAP.

The petition/email site has been a wonderful tool and, if you haven’t signed it already, I urge you to add your name, and voice. Also, please share the petition with others you know.

Here is the site: http://www.congressweb.com/fomd/8

Below is the most recent email I just sent to the members of our delegation conveying my concerns.

Thank you and best regards.

Dear Members of the Frederick County Delegation

Once again, I feel compelled to write to you regarding the proposed bill to restore full appellate rights to citizens of Frederick County who are aggrieved by a Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA). I and many others have argued that the law passed in 2013 was an egregious violation of our due process rights. Frederick County residents – alone in the State of Maryland – have had our voices quashed before the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals because of the 2013 law. You have heard from many of your constituents on this issue, urging you to support County Executive Jan Gardner’s proposed bill to repeal the changes made in 2013.

By and large, I believe many of you have supported this effort and understand the critical due process issue in play here. However, I also am aware that representatives from the development community continue to lobby against these changes and to defend their advantageous status quo. I urge you to resist any changes to the proposed bill before you. It is a simple and effective measure to repeal the wrongful changes made in 2013, and it must be made effective at the earliest date possible.

As the lobbyists for the development community finally awoke to the intense public interest in seeing this law corrected, they appear to have tried to convince you that Frederick County isn’t actually alone in lacking these appellate rights. They told you that Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties also lack the ability to appeal a DRRA at the local Board of Zoning Appeals. While the Counsel for the Delegation affirmed that Frederick County is in fact unique in the State on our lost appellate rights, I wanted to provide additional detail to rebut the developers argument.

You see, it is true that in Montgomery and Prince Georges County, there is no appellate option at the local Board of Zoning Appeals. However, this isn’t unique to DRRAs in those Counties. Rather, it represents a broad approach to appeals on land use issues. Most importantly – and this is the critical piece of information that the developers’ lobbyists didn’t tell you – the laws in those two counties expressly provide for the ability to appeal such issues (including DRRAs) to the Circuit Court, Court of Special Appeals, and the Court of Appeals. These are the same appellate options that have been taken away from Frederick County citizens.

In other words, you were told a half-truth in an attempt to convince you not to support the proposed bill. Back in 2012/2013, some of you were told another half-truth when the egregious bill was first put before you. You were told that by eliminating the option to appeal DRRAs at the Board of Zoning Appeals that it would save time and money. You weren’t told that it would also eliminate all appeal options following the single argument at Circuit Court. There isn’t a shadow of a doubt those responsible for bringing the bill before you in 2012/2013 knew exactly what the consequences would be.

Last Friday, you agreed to allow the developers’ lobbyists more time to convince you against restoring our due process rights on this matter. Despite the fact that these professional lobbyists have had just as many months as people like me – an ordinary citizen with a job and a family – to organize and communicate their position, you gave them this extra time. So be it. I imagine it seemed to you like a reasonable thing to do.

Please keep one thing in mind. There really is no fair or just argument behind their position. What was done in 2013 was wrong. The clearest and most responsible path before you is to push forward CE Gardner’s bill, to repeal the language from 2013, and to have it take effect at the soonest possible date. Any efforts to weaken, amend, or qualify the language in the proposed bill will likely threaten two (and possibly three) appeals currently in line for the Court of Special Appeals (COSA). Both the Blentlinger and Casey DRRA appeals have gone through the Circuit Court and are in the queue for being argued at COSA.

Each appeal is unique and raises troubling arguments about how DRRAs were abused and misused in Frederick County. The appellants in each case deserve the full appellate process afforded to citizens in the rest of Maryland. If you allow the proposed bill to be weakened, if these appeals are then rejected as a result, then you will have repeated the errors of 2013.

Please don’t allow that to happen. I urge you to back CE Gardner’s bill as written and to move it forward in the State legislature as soon as possible.

Respectfully,

Steve McKay

PS – The Frederick News Post published my letter on these matters last Saturday

Please SIGN THE PETITION to the members of our delegation!

http://www.congressweb.com/fomd/8

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Frederick News Post Letter to the Editor
Restoring due process for Frederick County
Steve McKay, Monrovia

Envision Frederick County
Two actions YOU can take now to help stop the Monrovia Town Center!
January 17, 2016
by Steve McKay

RALE – Residents Against Landsdale Expansion on the web.

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@RALEMonrovia on Twitter.

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