Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Sign of the Times

At Monday's meeting, the County Council voted unanimously to allows the county to remove temporary advertising signs illegally placed in the county right-of-way and charge their owners for the removal costs. You've seen the signs they're talking about: "Sell your house for pennies on the dollar!"; "Jim Bob's Junque Mart, Next Left"; and, "Going Out of Business Fire Sale!" Getting the entire Council to agree on anything is rare, but apparently they were feeling a groundswell of support to reduce roadside eyesores. Not surprisingly, some of those posting the signs claim they are "an effective form of advertising." Of course, that has no bearing on its legality.

Oddly, an associated impact of the bill's hasty preparation is that it bans horse and boat trailers from residential properties. Councilwoman Vitale (R-Severna Park) who crafted the amendment is working to eliminate that provision. [UPDATE: Executive Owens vetoed the provision in the bill]

The Council also voted to pass changes to the subdivision code that add public meeting requirements for developers and allow "property owners with small forest conservation easements on their land to abandon the easements under certain conditions." As I understand it, residents are allowed to clear conservation easements of up to 1750 sq/ft outside of the critical area, a significant reduction from the amount originally suggested. [UPDATE: I was incorrect, the amendment to lower the size of conservation areas that could be abandoned did not pass. The law allows up to a 1/2 acre to be bought out for $.75 sq/ft.] Councilwoman Samorajczyk (D-Annapolis Roads) was the lone no vote against the changes, concerned that the bill allowed the developers of the Parole Plaza site to get around zoning rules without public input.

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