Board of Appeals, Zoning Board, Zoning Hearing Examiner Defined

Board of Appeals, Zoning Board, Zoning Examiner Defined:

The Howard County Board of Appeals (BOA) is made up of 5 individuals nominated by their district’s county council member. The BOA receives appeals of cases from the hearing examiner (1 individual not a board). These cases only come to the BOA when one party is dissatisfied with the hearing examiner’s decision. The BOA is required to make its decision based on the law and the facts of the case.

A sampling of cases heard by the BOA include:

  • Proposed gas stations
  • Proposed assisted living and age restricted housing
  • Proposed cell phone towers, typically on residential or church properties
  • Proposed child care centers
  • Proposed solar farms

10-15% of cases heard related to neighborly issues - variances for garages, swimming pools; shops, garages or swimming pools built within setback lines because of unique circumstances for a particular property.

The majority of large development projects comply with code and regulations, and were therefore approved by the hearing examiner.  Sometimes, neighbors continued to oppose a project and bring the case to the BOA for a new hearing.  Only four large development projects came before the BOA during my tenure.

The policy-making bodies involved in planning and zoning are the Howard County Council and the Howard County Zoning Board.  Although technically two different panels, in Howard County the Council also sits as the Zoning Board.

A proposed development is subject to review by several agencies, all of which are required to follow the rules established by the Council and the Zoning Board:

  • Department of Planning and Zoning
  • Design Advisory Panel
  • Planning Board
  • Hearing Examiner
  • Board of Appeals

If a party is dissatisfied after all these processes, they may file a further appeal with the Circuit Court for Howard County.

Board of Appeals heard only 4 large development projects during my tenure. Decisions were rendered on each project based on facts and the law.  As a result 3 development projects were rejected and 1 approved.  The approved project related to two 4 story condo buildings in Turf Valley

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