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BZA?process needs some work

April 27, 2012
Shepherdstown Chronicle

On April 19, the Board of Zoning Appeals held a public hearing on the request for a Conditional Use Permit for the Twin Oaks development project. The Chronicle believes that the meeting could have and should have been more controlled and serious in its nature.

From the start, the allowance of the developers to address issues that were allegedly agreed upon at an earlier meeting and change verbage in the agreed upon listing of conditions should not have been done. Once it was done, the BZA should have allowed others to address the issues as well rather than accepting verbatim the proposed language of the individual(s) seeking the CUP.

The BZA should also have established ground rules for the hearing and stuck by those rules for all involved. An announced time limit for each speaker, although given, was not enforced. The developer, allowed 30 minutes, ran at least 45 which then led to others taking more time than should have been given. What the Chronicle observed, however, was that the developer and speakers for the developer were not encouraged to "wrap up" their comments as were those opposing the granting of the CUP. This editorial is not to address whether the CUP is a good thing or not, it is simply to stress that when rules apply, they should apply to all.

The BZA members failed to maintain control at the hearing by allowing participants to go beyond their time limits and then by failing to maintain order by controlling outbursts, comments and laughter from the audience when some individuals were speaking.

These volunteers should be trained, if they have not been, in the serious nature of such a hearing. Opinions run rampant on both sides of issues, especially one with as much controversy as this proposed CUP. The group's failure to lead a professional and serious hearing is sad as is their allowance of the applicant to dictate what should or should not be accepted as well as the applicant explaining how the process should be handled. We encourage the BZA members to define and maintain their rules for public hearings, provide them to all in attendance as well as on the county's website and force all to comply to the same rules and regulations in future hearings.

 
 

 

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