Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rutter's Coup is Put Down

On Monday evening, the County Council, unanimously, did the right thing. The Director of Planning and Zoning, Joe Rutter, backed by the County Executive had supported zoning language that would have effectively neutered the Board of Appeals.

The bill would have required the Board of Appeals to assume that decisions issuing from the Office of Planning and Zoning (part of the Executive branch) were correct, and therefore would have placed the burden of proof onto the appellant at Appeals hearings.

The full Board of Appeals showed up before the Council to testify against the language change, arguing, as Board Chair Tony Lamartina did that, "We fear that, rather than honestly responding to citizen concerns, these (county) agencies may retreat into an arrogant indifference, buffered by the knowledge that only the most well-heeled appellants will possess the resources necessary to challenge county decisions."

The Board of Appeals is an arm of the legislative branch, with its members appointed by individual County Councilpeople. Had this effort succeeded, it would have concentrated even more power in the Executive branch, and that, given the excessive power the Executive has under our current system, would have been a bad move for the county.

Thanks to Councilwoman Samorajczyk for sponsoring the amendment that killed this odious effort.



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