We Need an Office of People's Counsel- that works

Sorry for the quick turn around - please take action by March 8th!

Land Use is complicated - while the county and developers have a a bevy of land use attorneys, the average resident may not even know what their zoning is. This imbalance becomes stark when residents have questions about planned developments or zoning changes in their neighborhood. Until it was quietly defunded in 2010, re-balancing this equation was the job of the Office of the People's Counsel (OPC)- an agency that is authorized by the County Code to represent the public interest in the County’s land use regulatory process.

In the absence of the OPC, land use changes (some sweeping) often bump up against current master plans and cause the most detriment to communities that don't have the resources or land use acumen to defend themselves.

A Montgomery Delegation bill sought to change this HB 1364 was going to re-instate the OPC in the model of the active and functional OPC that our M-NCPPC neighbors in Prince Georges utilize to ensure sound land use planning decisions.

In Committee this bill has been extensively weakened, taking out the ability of the OPC officer to take part in hearings and removing the requirement that the officer be an experienced land use attorney.

Understanding and engaging in plans for development where you live should not be a privilege and the OPC needs the resources to help residents properly - as the office works in PG, Howard, Baltimore and other counties.

Please click "start writing" to send a quick message to the Montgomery Delegation (and the county council) in support of this bill and in opposition to amendments meant to weaken the office.

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