Montgomery County has streamlined some of its zoning and special exception application procedures by eliminating public hearings in some uncontested cases.
The planning board voted last week to amend three sections of the county zoning ordinance that deal with public hearings for special exception renewals and rezonings that already have been approved by the planning board.
"It was simply . . . to save time for both the county and the applicant in cases that are uncontested by neighbors or anyone else," said Joseph R. Davis, a county planning analyst. "It is a way to streamline the procedures."
Under the new rules, a special exception renewal that is uncontested will not be subject to a public hearing, which was required periodically under the old county ordinance.
"What that means is that if someone is operating a beauty parlor in her home and no one is against it, then the owner will not have to come down for a public hearing," Davis said.
The county hearing examiner hears about 50 special exception renewal cases every year, and only about 20 of those are contested, Davis added.
The new policy also will apply to public hearings for rezonings. While a public hearing still must be held before the county planning board makes its recommendation on a rezoning application, Davis said, the second public hearing formerly required before the County Council will be waived if the application is uncontested.
"If the board agrees with the applicant and no one disagrees with the rezoning, then there will not be another public hearing," Davis said. "The hearing examiner will simply write a report to the council, saying there is no opposition and the record will be sufficient."
However, Davis said anyone who wants to contest a special exception renewal or a rezoning after the planning board has voted may contact the hearing examiner and a hearing will be scheduled.