Council Update


“The county council is pushing this bill through, without any information to the public.” This comment is sometimes made during public testimony on legislation before the Anne Arundel County Council. The county council contemplates legislation that can have strong support, strong opposition or both. The county council does not introduce a bill with little opportunity for residents in the county to read, consider and offer feedback.

When legislation is officially introduced at a council meeting, law requires that it be advertised and in public view for one month before the county council holds testimony on the legislation. Council staff work diligently so that this requirement is always met. All legislation is posted on our county council website, and as legislation moves through the legislative process, the status of each bill is updated. Most legislation comes from the Office of the County Executive and is introduced by the chair of the council. Since my second term began, I have introduced roughly a dozen bills, the majority of which have passed.

The county council has one annual recess during August, which means 11 months out of the year, legislation is introduced regularly during our legislative meetings that are held on the first and third Mondays of the month. I know it can be a challenge for residents to keep up, or even remember to check on legislation. I do my best to bring the legislation to you through a regular newsletter that comes to email inboxes the week before our meeting. This newsletter lists legislation being heard at our next meeting and gives a preview of legislation being heard in the future.

Once a bill is introduced and in the one-month window of resident review, members of the community can use several testimony tools available. The county council website has an online testimony tool that allows you to choose the bill you would like to weigh in on and submit electronic testimony. Residents may also mail or drop off written testimony to the county council office or sign up to testify during the public hearing on any piece of legislation. There is also an opportunity for anyone who hasn’t signed up to testify on a bill to do so at the allowance of the chair when there is a final call for testimony for anyone who has not signed up in advance.

Local law has a great impact on your daily life, and I will continue to bring information to you, to the best of my ability and resources. One of the largest legislative efforts that will encompass multiple bills across several years is comprehensive rezoning. I have talked about comprehensive rezoning in the past and will continue to share details throughout the process. While our area is councilmanic District 5, our area is Region 4 for comprehensive rezoning purposes.

The entire county has been divided into nine regions, with three regions at a time being reviewed by the council. Each set of three regions will take roughly two years from start to finish. Regions 2, 4 and 7 are the first three regions to be considered for comprehensive rezoning. Regions 2 and 7 have been introduced to the council in four bills.

Our region (Region 4) is set to be introduced as legislation in April, with the first public hearing in May. This staggered manner of introduction is due to the length of time and number of applications for our area that were reviewed in the preliminary steps before coming to the council.

With each region, the council will examine applications for zoning changes on individual properties and will consider the recommendations of the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, Planning Advisory Board, Office of Planning and Zoning, and public testimony from both the public and private property owners. The council will also consider zoning changes that do not have applications by the owner but are recommendations from the Office of Planning and Zoning for “consistency” changes.

Zoning is the category for development or use that each property may have, and level of intensity within that category. Our zoning categories are residential, commercial, maritime, industrial and mixed-use. Within each zoning category, the intensity of use and/or development ranges from one (least intense) to four (highest intensity).

This process is required by state law. Some form of rezoning legislation must be passed for the county to be in compliance with state law. It is likely that amendments will be introduced for each region. There is also a small window of opportunity for property owners who have missed the lengthy review process to apply for a zoning change, but with that comes a requirement that a zoning change request sign (think of the large variance signs you may see on a property) be posted and visible to the public on any property utilizing this late request option.

Comprehensive rezoning takes place once every 10 years and has the potential to change how our county is developed. It is important for us and for future generations. If you would like to receive updates on this and any other legislation through the District 5 newsletter, please send me a request at

If you would like to follow legislation on your own, you can visit the Anne Arundel County Council website at


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