Date: Dec 30, 2005 1:37 AM
Subject: PG CTIZN to file suit against Pr George's County Council
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECITIZENS SUE PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY COUNCIL IN ZONING CASE
Contact: Kelly Canavan, 301-237-5040, 301-283-2963, or
PG CTIZN (Prince Georges Coalition To Improve Zoning Now) will file suit against the Prince George's County Council tomorrow, challenging Text Amendment CB-53-2005, the first in a series of lawsuits intended to stop the Council's longstanding pattern of misusing text amendments (TAs) to give developers sweetheart deals.
PG CTIZN is comprised of civic groups and individuals. Public response to the lawsuit has been phenomenal, and fundraising is going very well.
Our goals are to
1. Obtain permanent injunctions against TA projects that do not meet uniformity standards set under Article 28 of the Maryland Code
2. Have TA project permits declared null and void since they were illegally approved in the first place
3. Reinforce and clarify appropriate uses of TAs
4. Show the Council that this pattern of TA abuse is unacceptable, and that citizens will no longer stand for having their rights subverted through arcane processes and policy loopholes
"Fast-tracking inappropriate development, even though PGC public facilities and infrastructure cannot handle it, compounds the problems that are sinking our county," according to Kelly Canavan, spokesperson for PG CTIZN.
Crime levels in PGC have reached record highs. Despite teachers' valiant efforts, our overcrowded schools are failing miserably; the educational process is stymied by too many students crammed into dilapidated classrooms with minimal resources. Our air and water are badly polluted, and, on our roadways, all hours are rush hours.
CB-53, sponsored by Councilwoman Marilynn Bland, permits the Bevard North portion of the Bevard Farms project. It was publicly opposed by one councilmember and hundreds of citizens. Bevard North's housing would be age-restricted, so developers would not have to pay otherwise mandatory schools surcharges. Density in that area would increase by approximately 800 percent.
"Many of Bevard North's possible 942 units are slated to be built on land the County Council's Master Plan for Subregion V designates as future roadway Arterial 65 (A-65.) A-65 would be the only avenue connecting Clinton directly to any major commuter freeways," said Randy Pheobus of Concerned Citizens of Clinton for Sustainable Development.
TAs are meant to correct errors in zoning law after it has been written. Good TAs affect policy that will be applied uniformly throughout the county to benefit citizens.
"Developers are well-served by keeping controversial projects secret through TAs. The public doesn't have to be notified of TAs at all, and there is no clear appeals process to fight them, thus depriving citizens of their right to participate in the normal zoning process. Most citizens are totally unaware of TAs until they see bulldozers and stacks of muddy trees," said Charles Reilly, President of the Prince George's County chapter of The Sierra Club.
Normal rezoning requires public notification and hearings, provides many opportunities for public involvement, and there is a clear appeals process if citizens think the Council has acted inappropriately.
The Council's significant pattern of TA abuse and statistics showing the County does very few real rezonings anymore, prove the Council knowingly ignores the State-authorized rezoning process, instead back-dooring developments that should be going through the normal hearing process associated with zoning map amendments or Special Exceptions.
Our attorney, G. Macy Nelson, is representing PGC citizens in two other cases challenging TAs.
Donations of any amount will be gratefully accepted at P.O. Box 477, Accokeek, MD 20607. Checks should be made out to PG CTIZN.