Engaging The Public In Land Use Decisions

A committee in Baltimore charged with the task of encouraging more public involvement in land use decisions is learning how difficult that can be as it faces criticism that its own meetings didn't get enough participation from residents.

"Though a residents' committee charged with studying ways to better involve residents in land-use decisions agreed on 40 recommendations, the group is drawing criticism - from within and without - that it did not do enough.

The Public Engagement in Land Use Task Force, which was created by two County Council members, is scheduled to formally report its findings to the council May 27.

The group's 40 recommendations include:

•Creating a brochure in print and on the county government Web site that explains how to participate in the land-use decision process.

•Establishing a Web page and a handbook describing how residents can get information on land use.

•Providing a county official, when requested, at developers' required presubmission meetings to explain procedures to residents.

•Recording and broadcasting Planning Board and council meetings and work sessions on government TV and on the Internet.

But some community activists who were on the committee said the group's efforts were unduly influenced by members with development interests, lacked firm direction and did too little to give residents more influence in how county land is used."

Full Story: Land-use panel draws criticism

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