County Code Section 2-124 states that the Board of Appeals has the authority to adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of its hearings and Section 27-231(e) states that the Board may adopt rules of procedure consistent with the Zoning Ordinance. The Board's procedures relative to the operation of the office, the Board's functions and requirements, and conduct of public hearings are specifically described at the specific links within this website.
Filing Requirements & Scheduling
The filing of an administrative appeal with the Board must meet requirements specified within the County Code section relevant to the particular agency determination which is being appealed. County Code Section 27-231(b) outlines the requirements of filing a zoning appeal with the Board. Any appellant must note an appeal within thirty (30) days after the refusal of a permit, issuance of a notice, or other decision.
In filing an administrative appeal, an appellant must submit to the Board a request in writing for the appeal, together with a copy of the agency determination/decision from which the appeal is being taken and the appropriate filing fee. (See Fees.) In filing a zoning appeal, an appellant must complete and submit the forms provided by the Board and the appropriate filing and posting (where necessary) fees. The Administrator to the Board will not accept any form which is incomplete.
Appeals are scheduled for public hearing as expeditiously as possible in accordance with the requirements of the various codes and regulations. The County Code states that the Chairman of the Board of Appeals determines the time and place of all meetings. (See Public Hearings/Meetings). Notices of hearing are sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to all parties entitled by law to receive notice of the hearings. Both administrative and zoning appeals require notice fifteen (15) days prior to hearings. In variance appeals, all properties, and in zoning appeals not involving variances, properties which are zoned industrial or commercial, signs must be posted advertising public hearings for fifteen (15) days prior to the hearings.
Requests for continuance of a hearing should be made at least 54 hours prior to the hearing, except when emergencies occur. The validity of an emergency is determined by the Board. In variance cases, a continuance requested by petitioner is granted until such time as the petitioner requests that the case be brought forward for hearing. If a continuance is requested by another party of record in a variance case, the reason for the request is ascertained by staff and the petitioner is contacted to see if there is any objection to a postponement. If there is none, the hearing is continued until a later date. If the petitioner objects, the Board's Chairman is apprised of request, reason, and objection. The Chairman will then make a decision as to the request for continuance. In all other appeals, the County is contacted as to whether it objects and, if so, the Chairman decides whether the request is granted.
The fees for filing appeals or variance requests with the Board of Appeals are listed in County Code Section 2-122. The fee schedule was last modified by the County Council in 2003.
The following schedule of filing fees applies to all applications or appeals submitted to the Board:
| (1) Variances
| (a) Existing single-family attached and detached residences
| (b) Single-family attached and detached residences that are proposed, newly constructed or under construction
| (c) All other structures
| (2) Extension of Time to Cease or Correct Zoning Violation
| (a) Residential property involved
| (b) All other requests for time
| (3) Other Zoning Appeals
| (4) Administrative Appeals
| (a) Residential Property Involved
| (b) Commercial or Industrial property involved
County Code Section 27-231(c)(2) states that in lieu of the fee, an appellant may submit an affidavit claiming that payment of the fee would be an extreme financial hardship. The hardship may only be claimed by a natural person. The affidavit must contain the information required by the County Director of Finance and any other pertinent facts which the appellant feels are necessary.
County Code Section 27-23l(c)(l) states that fees are nonrefundable unless (upon request of the appellant) the Board finds that the fee was paid by mistake. Section 2-122(d) states that the Board may refund a filing fee where the Board finds a clear violation by an administrative agent of the County.
The Board meets twice monthly and also holds additional meetings when necessary. The Board processes approximately 200 to 300 cases each year. The Board is required to maintain adequate records of all hearings and keep minutes of its proceedings, meetings and hearings. Before making its decision on any appeal, or a request to grant additional time to cease a violation, the Board must hold a public hearing on the matter. All actions of the Board must be taken by resolution, in which at least two (2) members must concur. Each resolution shall contain a statement of the grounds and findings forming the basis of the action. The text of the resolution and record of members' votes shall be incorporated into the minutes or other records of the Board.
All public hearings are advertised by mailing notices of hearing by certified mail, return receipt requested, to all persons of record at least fifteen (15) days prior to the hearing. In all zoning appeals, adjoining property owners and municipalities, where applicable, are automatically persons of record. When the subject property is not in a residential zone, the property must be posted with a sign or signs advertising the public hearing at least fifteen (15) days prior to the hearing.
All Board of Appeals hearings are public hearings; however, if necessary, a part of the meeting may be conducted in closed session. Closed sessions may be called during the course of a meeting or public hearing in order to allow the members to obtain advice from counsel. Members are not permitted to deliberate among themselves unless in an open, public session.
A petitioner, or counsel representing petitioner, must be present at the hearing. A petitioner which is a corporation, limited liability company, or other business entity must be represented by counsel, licensed to practice in the State of Maryland, at any hearing before the Board. Any non-attorney representative present at the hearing on behalf of the petitioner (or any other person or entity) is not permitted to advocate.
Hearings may be adjourned and continued. If the date, time, and place of the continued hearing is publicly announced at the time of the adjournment, no further notice of the continuation is required. If the date, time, and place is not publicly announced at the time of the adjournment, notice must be given in the same manner as with the original hearing.
Section 27-232 of the County Zoning Ordinance states that to help it reach a decision, the Board of Zoning Appeals may request the Planning Board or a County agency furnish technical service, advice, data or factual evidence.
Ex Parte Communications
Section 2-296 of the County Code, Ex Parte Communications, applies to cases pending before the Board. This section states:
"An official shall not consider any ex parte or private communication from any person, whether oral or written, which the official knows or should know may be intended to influence the decision on the merits of any matter where a determination or decision by the official is required by law to be made upon facts established by a record of testimony. Any such ex parte or private communication received by the official shall be made a public record by the official and filed in the matter in question, and if made orally, shall be written down in substance for this purpose by the official, made a public record and filed in the matter in question. A communication to the Clerk of the County Council, Board of Appeals or similar agency, concerning the status or procedures of a pending matter shall not be considered an ex parte or private communication. This Subsection shall not apply to legal advice rendered by the Office of Law and shall not apply to technical advice or explanation rendered by or at the request of the appropriate official of the County."
If a member of the Board has any doubts as to whether a communication relates to the merits of a case, the member is advised to consider it so and include it in the record.
Appealing a Board Decision
Within thirty (30) days from the date of the issuance of any decision of the Board of Appeals, any person, firm, corporation, or governmental agency who was a party to the Board's proceedings and is aggrieved by its decision may file an appeal to the Circuit Court of Prince George's County pursuant to Title 7, Chapter 200 of the Maryland Rules of Procedure.