The Baltimore County Board of Appeals was created and established under Article VI, Section 601 of the Baltimore County Charter in 1982.
The Board handles most cases that originate at the agency level of Baltimore County Government. The following are types of appeals the Board handles (this list is not all inclusive and subject to change):
- Animal Hearing Board
- Baltimore County Code Violation
- Baltimore County Employee's Retirement System
- Building Permits
- Critical Area Regulation Variance
- Development Plan
- Fence Waiver
- Forest Buffer Variance
- Industrial Waste Ordinance Violations
- Planned Unit Development (PUD)
- Residential Handicap Parking Permit
- Road Closing
- Sewer and Water Benefit Charges
- Taxi Driver License Application
- Towing License Application
- Zoning (i.e. Petitions for Special Hearing, Special Exception, Variance, etc.)
- Map Correction
The Board of Appeals is bound to follow the laws of the Baltimore County Code and Baltimore County Zoning Regulations, as well as the Maryland Rules. The Board also abides by the following rules of practice and procedure:
The Baltimore County Board of Appeals("Board" or "Board of Appeals") shall select one of its members to serve as the Board Chair at the pleasure of the Board. The Board Chair shall preside at all hearings of the Board of Appeals, unless the Board Chair designates another member of the Board to sit in the Board Chair's place as Panel Chair.
Hearings of the Baltimore County Board of Appeals shall be held periodically as determined by the Board Chair or as required by statute.
Three (3) members of the Board shall constitute a Board Panel. During the course of a hearing, if any member of the Board panel is unable to continue to serve on the Board Panel another member shall fill the vacancy. In the case of a remand, if any member of the Board Panel is unable to serve, another member shall fill the vacancy. A majority vote of two (2) of the three (3) sitting members of the Board Panel is necessary to render a decision.
Pursuant to Baltimore County Code section 3-12-104, the terms zoning commissioner, deputy zoning commissioner and administrative law judge are interchangeable.
All appeals to the Board from decisions of the zoning commissioner or deputy zoning commissioner shall be in conformance with the rules of the zoning commissioner of Baltimore County with respect to the form of appeal, and the filing fees shall be as established either by said rules of the zoning commissioner or by the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations.
All other appeals shall be in conformance with the Baltimore County Code and Charter.
Computation of time shall be in accordance with Rule 1-203 of the Maryland Rules.
No hearing shall be conducted without at least ten (10) days' notice to all parties of record and/or their counsel of record, unless otherwise agreed to by all such parties and/or their counsel of record.
The Board in its discretion may grant a continuance or postponement on its own initiative or on written request of a party of record or the requesting party's counsel setting forth good and sufficient reasons for the requested postponement. A written request shall be addressed to the Board and shall certify that the request was sent to all parties and counsel entitled to receive notice.
A postponement shall not be granted within fifteen (15) days prior to the hearing date except in extraordinary circumstances and for a reason satisfactory to the Board, given by the party requesting such postponement indicating that the circumstances requiring the postponement are of an unusual and extraordinary nature.
All records and dockets of the Board shall be open to the public during normal business hours subject to limitation by the Maryland Public Information Act.
In appeals from decisions of the zoning commissioner, formal notice of hearings, continuances and decisions of the Board will be provided only to those persons entitled to receive same in accordance with § 500.11 of the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations.
Notice of hearings and deliberations before the Board may be mailed, emailed, and/or posted on the Board's website.
No appeal shall be entertained by the Board of Appeals unless the notice of appeal states the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of the persons noting such appeal.
An appeal may be withdrawn or dismissed at any time prior to the conclusion of the hearing on the appeal or petition. The request shall be submitted in writing or upon oral request in circumstances that preclude a written request and should include whether the dismissal is requested with or without prejudice. The Board has the discretion to determine if a matter should be dismissed with or without prejudice. A petition that is dismissed with prejudice under this paragraph may not be resubmitted for a period of 18 months after the dismissal.
All appeals to the Board of Appeals shall be made within thirty (30) days from the date of the final action appealed, unless otherwise provided by County Code.
All hearings held by the Board of Appeals shall be open to the public. No hearing shall be private even if all parties agree. The Board of Appeals shall have the power to administer oaths, and all witnesses shall testify under oath.
The Board Chair, or Panel Chair if designated, shall regulate the course of the hearing and shall rule upon procedural matters, applications, modifications, and objections made during the course of the hearing, subject to the concurrence of a majority of the Board conducting the hearing.
A hearing may be adjourned from time to time for good cause shown and if the time and place of reconvening the hearing is announced at adjournment, no further notice of reconvening shall be required. If the time and place of reconvening is not announced at adjournment, notice of time and place of reconvening shall be given as required in rule 2A.
Depositions and discovery shall not be allowed unless by agreement of all parties or their counsel of record.
The Board encourages the parties to come to stipulations or agreements on documentary evidence.
Remote electronic proceedings ("remote hearings", "virtual hearings", "remote public deliberations", or "virtual public deliberations") may be conducted at the discretion of the Board Chair or designated Panel Chair.
All remote hearings and remote public deliberations will be open to the public.
The preferred platform used by the Board of Appeals to conduct remote hearings is Webex, although other platforms may be used by the Board. Once notice is received of the type of hearing and platform being used, anyone wishing to access the hearing, should download any necessary application to any electronic device before the hearing to ensure that device is working and there are no issues, (e.g. camera working, sound check, sufficient internet connectivity.)
A link to the remote hearing or deliberation will be emailed to the attorneys of record and posted on the Board of Appeals website. Information for telephonic participation will also be posted on the Board of Appeals website. The Board of Appeals office should be contacted for more information regarding the process for participating in a remote hearing before the Board.
All remote hearings and public deliberations will be recorded by the Board of Appeals to serve as the official recording.
Except as otherwise directed by the Board, all remote hearings will be conducted in accordance with the same standards as hearings conducted in person.
If a remote hearing is disrupted due to audio or video technical difficulties, the Board may delay, postpone, or require attendance by telephone or in-person.
If a party is not able to participate by remote means, the party should contact the Board of Appeals office promptly.
All participants are expected to conduct themselves as if they were in the courtroom. Attorneys are expected to abide by the Maryland Attorney's Professional Rules of Conduct and maintain professionalism in both their appearance and conduct.
Any individual who is a party to a proceeding before the Board may appear in his/her own behalf; and a member of a partnership may appear as representing said partnership if it is a party; a duly authorized officer of a corporation, trust or an association may appear as representing said entity, if it is a party to the proceedings; and a duly authorized officer or and employee of any political subdivision or body or department may represent the same before the Board.
Any party may be represented in any Board proceeding by an attorney-at-law admitted to practice before the Court of Appeals of Maryland.
No person shall appear before the Board in a representative capacity, engage in practice, examine witnesses or otherwise act in a representative capacity except as provided in sections A and B above.
When an attorney wishes to appear in any proceeding in a representative capacity which involves a hearing before the Board, the attorney shall file with the Board a written notice of such appearance, which shall state the attorney's name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the persons on whose behalf the attorney has entered an appearance.
The board may cause subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum to be issued upon its own motion, or upon the application of any party to any hearing; but subpoenas will not be issued upon application unless such application is in writing and sets forth the persons, records, books, papers or other documents to be produced and a general statement as the purpose.
Any evidence which would be admissible under the general rules of evidence applicable in judicial proceedings in the State of Maryland shall be admissible in hearings before the Board of Appeals. The Board has discretion to apply the Maryland Rules of Evidence.
All evidence, including records and documents in the possession of the originating agency, shall be transferred to the Board upon appeal and made part of the record in the timeframe provided by statute, if applicable.
To the extent possible, exhibits should be pre-filed at least two business days prior to the remote hearing. To properly prepare for remote hearings and to address any issues with the exhibits prior to the hearing, it is critical that the Board receive the exhibits as timely as possible.
To pre-file proposed exhibits with the Board, a party may:
Email electronic copies to email@example.com; or
Upon request and by agreement of the Board:
Upload the exhibits to a designated internet location;
Deliver by U.S. mail; or
Hand-deliver to a physical drop box or the Board of Appeals office.
The Board may admit exhibits not submitted prior to the hearing to be used at the hearing.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, the Board's custodian of records shall not be obligated to maintain any proposed exhibits that were not made part of the record and may delete them from an email inbox, virtual drop box or other virtual storage folder at the Board of custodian of records' convenience.
Prepared statements may be read by participants in the hearing if they include factual material and do not include argument, provided copies of said statements have been delivered to the Board and opposing counsel at least five (5) days prior to the hearing, and their admissibility ruled upon, the same as if the factual content were presented. "Prepared statements" within the meaning of this section shall not include factual reports, written summations, letters, expert opinions of professional expert witnesses and other such similar documents.
Except as may otherwise be provided by statute or regulations, the moving party shall have the burden of proof.
Any County official record or entries therein when admissible for any purpose may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the County officer having legal custody of the record, and the appearance of the officer will not be required unless demanded by a party to the case and for good cause shown to the Board. This rules does not prevent any party from summoning any proper witness to attend any hearing before the Board or presenting evidence with circumstances indicating authenticity and reliability.
The Board on its own initiative, or at the request of a party, may require that the direct testimony of all "expert" witnesses be submitted in writing with copies of all exhibits referred to therein. Thereafter, the "expert" witnesses shall be personally present at the hearing for affirmation of their written testimony and exhibits previously submitted and for cross-examination.
On the day of a remote hearing, the attorneys, moving party and their witnesses shall appear at the appointed time. Failure to appear may result in dismissal.
Where a witness attends the remote hearing, the witness will be sworn or affirmed by the Board prior to the commencement of their testimony. All attendees shall conduct themselves as if in an in-person quasi-judicial hearing.
The Board of Appeals shall have the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and to require the production of records and documentary or other tangible evidence.
The Board may cause subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum to be issued upon its own motion, or upon the written application of any party to any hearing; but subpoenas will not be issued upon applications unless such application is in writing and sets forth the persons, records, books, papers or other documents to be produced and a general statement of purpose.
Before any person shall testify on behalf of any civic or improvement association, that person shall provide to the Board the following documents:
A resolution duly adopted by the association at its regularly scheduled or a special meeting of the association, signed by the president and attested by the secretary, providing that the responsibility for review and action on all zoning matters be placed in its Board of Directors or a duly elected zoning committee.
A resolution stating the position of the association as adopted by the Board of Directors or zoning committee, signed by the president and attested by the secretary, shall also be produced in duplicate at the hearing.
Written affidavit signed by the president of the association and attested by the secretary, that such person is currently a duly elected member of the Board of Directors or zoning committee of that association, or is an attorney appointed to represent the Board of Directors or zoning committee.
Before any person shall testify, it shall be shown that the person has accurate knowledge of the geographic limits of the association and that the property at issue is located within the geographical limits of the association.
All hearings and deliberations of the Board of Appeals shall be open to the public in accordance with the Open Meetings Act of Maryland.
Except in instances when the Board of Appeals expressly invites public testimony, questions, comments or other public participation, or when public participation is otherwise authorized by law, no member of the public attending a hearing or deliberation may participate in the hearing on deliberation.
A person attending a hearing or deliberation of the Board of Appeals may not engage in any conduct, including visual demonstrations such as waving of placards, signs, or banners, that disrupts the hearing or deliberation or that interferes with the right of members of the public to attend and observe the hearing or deliberation.
A person attending or attorney participating in a hearing or deliberation of the Board of Appeals may not engage in any conduct that:
disrupts the hearing, evidence presentation, a witness’ testimony, attorney argument, or any other matter;
may not influence a witness during testimony or attorney during argument;
attempt to communicate with any Board member, a party, and/or a testifying witness by any disruptive gesture or vocal or other action indicating approval, disapproval, agreement, disagreement, support or opposition.
The Board Chair or designated Panel Chair hearing the case may order any person who engages in conduct prohibited by subsection A and/or subsection B of this section or who violates any other regulation concerning the conduct of the hearing or deliberation to be removed from the hearing or deliberation and may request police assistance and/or security to restore order. The Board Chair or designated Panel Chair may recess the session while order is restored. The Board, in its discretion, may adjourn the hearing for the day and reschedule the remainder of the hearing.
All hearings and deliberations are recorded as a matter of Board of Appeals and County policy. Recordings of the Board of Appeals hearings and public deliberations will be available upon request for a fee in accordance with County policy.
A recording of an open session made by a member of the public, or a transcript derived from such a recording, shall not be deemed a part of the record of any proceeding of the Board of Appeals.
A party may file a motion for reconsideration of an order of the Board of Appeals. The motion shall be filed within thirty (30) days after the date of the original order. The motion shall state with specificity the grounds and reasons for the motion (including but not limited to: newly discovered evidence, change in law, fraud, mistake or irregularity.) The filing of a motion for reconsideration shall stay all further proceedings in the matter, including the time limits and deadlines for the filing of a petition for judicial review.
The Board of Appeals shall hold a public deliberation on the motion for reconsideration and any responsive pleadings.
After public deliberation and in its discretion, the Board may convene a hearing to receive testimony, evidence, and/or argument on the motion. Each party participating in the hearing on the motion shall be limited to testimony or argument only with respect to the motion; the Board may not receive additional testimony with respect to the substantive matter of the case.
Within thirty (30) days after the entry of an order, the Board shall have revisory power and control over the order in the event of fraud, mistake or irregularity.
These rules may be amended from time to time in accordance with § 603 of the Baltimore County Charter.