The Board of Zoning Appeals is hereby created.
The Board shall consist of five members, plus one alternate, all of whom shall be residents or own real property within the Town of Leonardtown.
[Amended 2-9-2009 by Ord. No. 142]
Members are to be appointed by the Town Commissioners and shall serve without compensation.
The Board shall have a Chairman, a Vice Chairman and a Secretary. The Chairman shall be appointed by the Board of Zoning Appeals and shall be confirmed by the Town Council. The other officers shall be elected by the Board.
[Amended 5-9-2011 by Ord. No. 149]
Members shall be removable for cause upon written charges and after public hearing.
Of the members first appointed, one shall serve for one year, two for two years and two for three years. Thereafter, members shall be appointed for terms of three years each.
Vacancies shall be filled by appointment for the unexpired term. The Board shall be organized and its rules shall be amended, if necessary, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the Chairman and at such other times as the Board may determine.
The Chairman or, in his absence, the Vice Chairman may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses.
For assistance in reaching decisions relative to appeals, special exceptions or variances, the Board may request testimony at its hearings for purposes of securing technical aid or factual evidence from the Commission or any Town agency.
All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public. The Board shall keep minutes of all proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, which shall be immediately filed in the office of the Board and shall be a public record.
The Board shall have the following powers:
[Amended 5-9-2011 by Ord. No. 149]
To hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that there is an error in any order, requirement, decisions or determination made by an administrative officer in the enforcement of this chapter or of any ordinance pursuant thereto.
To hear and decide special exceptions to the terms of an ordinance on which the Board is required to pass under the ordinance.
To authorize, upon appeal in special cases, a variance from the terms of an ordinance.
In exercising the above-mentioned powers, the Board may, in conformity with the provisions of law and this chapter and amendments thereto, reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirements, decisions or determinations appealed from and may make such order, requirement, decision or determination as ought to be made.
The Board is also empowered to adopt and promulgate such rules and regulations as it shall deem necessary in the conduct of its hearings and the issuance of its decisions or testimony pertaining to its hearings.
An appeal to the Board may be taken by any person aggrieved or by any officer, department, board, commission or bureau of the Town affected by any decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Such appeal shall be taken within 30 days after the decision by filing with the Commission and with the Board notice of appeal, specifying the grounds thereof. The Planning and Zoning Commission shall forthwith transmit to the Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken.
An appeal stays all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the officer from whom the appeal is taken certifies to the Board of Zoning Appeals, after notice of appeal shall have been filed with him, that by reason of the facts stated in the certificate a stay would, in his opinion, cause imminent peril to life or property. In such case, proceedings shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order, which may be granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals or by a court of record on application, on notice to the officer from whom the appeal is taken and on due cause shown.
Application for appeal.
[Added 1-13-2014 by Ord. No. 158]
An application for administrative appeal shall be submitted and accompanied by the following materials and information:
All documents and records upon which the application for appeal is based, including the final order, requirement, decision or determination being reviewed.
A specific reference to each section of the Town Code that authorizes the Appeals Board to hear the application and grant the requested relief.
Names and addresses of adjacent property owners as required by this Chapter 155 of the Town Code.
The following materials and information need not be submitted by the appellant with the application but shall be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the contested case hearing.
All documents, records and exhibits that were available but not presented at the time the contested decision was made that the appellant intends to rely upon at the contested case hearing.
A summary of what the appellant expects to prove, including the names of appellant's witnesses, summaries of the testimony of expert witnesses and the estimated time required for presentation of the appellant's case. All reports from experts shall be filed with the Board and appropriate Town Officials at least 15 days prior to the contested case hearing.
Order of presentation for the hearing:
Establish a quorum of Board of Appeals members. Presentation of the official record of exhibits as noted in Subsection C(1) by the Board of Appeals, notations of any objections to any part of the record and other preliminary matters.
The examination by the members of the Board of Appeals is permitted at any time. All witnesses will testify under oath. The order of presentation and cross examination of all witnesses shall be as follows:
Opening statement by the appellant.
Opening statement by the Town Officials.
Presentation of testimony and exhibits by the Town Officials.
Cross-examination by appellant, if desired.
Presentation of testimony and exhibits by the appellant.
Cross-examination by Town Officials, if desired.
Formal receipt into evidence of the record by the Board of Appeals.
Closing statement by the appellant.
Closing statement by the Town Officials.
Burden of proof. The appellant shall have the burden of proof which shall include the burden of going forward with the evidence and the burden of persuasion, by a preponderance of the evidence, on all issues of fact.
Decisions of the Board.
Decisions of the Board shall comply with the following requirements:
Evidence of record: All decisions of the Board shall be based solely upon the evidence of record presented at this hearing.
Form and time: Decisions of the Board shall be in writing, shall contain findings and conclusions, and shall be rendered within 30 days from the date of the public hearing unless such time is extended by the Board. A majority vote of the Board, based on the members present, is required to grant an appeal.
All rules of procedure are to be applied to the proceedings as interpreted by the Chair of the Appeals Board.
Upon the filing of an application for a special exception or variance before the Board of Zoning Appeals, the following action shall be taken preparatory to holding a hearing thereon:
The Planning and Zoning Commission shall review all special exception applications or variances and shall forward its recommendations to the Board of Zoning Appeals within 30 days of submission of such application or appeal.
[Amended 8-9-2004 by Ord. No. 119]
The Board shall hold a public hearing within 60 days of submission of the application or appeal.
Notice of the hearing shall be advertised in two consecutive issues of a newspaper having general circulation in the Town. The first insertion shall appear in such newspaper at least 25 days prior to such hearing.
Property upon which the application or appeal is concerned shall be posted by the applicant conspicuously by a zoning notice at least 14 days before the date of the hearing. All signs posted by the applicant providing notice of the public hearing shall be removed by the applicant and returned to the Town Office no later than two weeks following the public hearing.
[Amended 5-9-2011 by Ord. No. 149]
Notification by certified mail shall be made to the appellant or petitioner and to the owners of those properties and the addresses certified on the notice of appeals by the appellant or petitioner as being contiguous to the property with which the hearing is concerned.
The Board, upon application, in writing, by any interested party filed with the Board no less than 10 days prior to the date of scheduled hearing, shall visit the specific property involved prior to the hearing. The Board, in its discretion, may otherwise visit the specific property prior to or after the hearing.
Requests for postponement of a scheduled hearing shall be filed, in writing, with the Board not less than 10 days prior to the date of hearing and shall be accompanied by a sum of money sufficient to pay the cost of advertising the postponement and the rescheduled hearing. The granting of such requests shall be at the discretion of the Chairman of the Board.
Requests for postponement filed later than 10 days prior to the date of a scheduled hearing shall, in addition to the other requirements set forth in Subsection F above, be supported by an affidavit of the party making the request or of some other creditable person. The granting of such request shall be at the discretion of the Board in cases of extreme hardship or upon good cause shown.
The Board may, upon its own initiative, postpone a scheduled hearing at any time.
The Board may continue a hearing at another time and/or date once such hearing has been started; however, the Board shall announce the date and hour of continuance of such hearing while in session.
The Board, following such action above, shall hold such hearing. At the hearing, any party may appear to be heard in person or by agent or attorney.
The Board shall render a decision within a reasonable time, but in no instance more than 60 days following the hearing.
Where in these regulations certain powers are conferred upon the Board or an approval of the Board is required before a permit may be issued or the Board is called upon to decide certain issues, such Board shall study the specific property involved, as well as the neighborhood, and consider all testimony and data submitted and shall hear any person desiring to speak for or against the issuance of the permit. However, the application for a permit shall not be approved where the Board finds that the proposed building, addition, extension of building or use, sign, use or change of use would adversely affect the public health, safety, security, morals or general welfare or would result in dangerous traffic conditions or would jeopardize the lives or property of people living in the neighborhood. In deciding such matters, the Board shall give consideration, among other things, to the following:
The number of people residing or working in the immediate area concerned.
The orderly growth of a community.
Traffic conditions and facilities.
The effect of such use upon the peaceful enjoyment of people in their homes.
The conservation of property values.
The effects of odors, dust, gas, smoke, fumes, vibrations, glare and noise upon the use of surrounding property values.
The most appropriate use of land and structure.
Decisions of the courts.
The purpose of these regulations as set forth herein.
The types and kinds of structures in the vicinity where public gatherings may be held, such as schools, churches and the like.
In the approval of any special exception, variance or appeal which it is required to decide, the Board of Zoning Appeals may impose such conditional approvals as it may deem necessary to assure conformity with the intent and purpose of this article.
In accordance with the applicable provisions of Maryland law, any persons, jointly or severally, aggrieved by any decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals or any taxpayer or any officer, department, board or bureau of the municipality may present to the Circuit Court of the county a petition duly verified, setting forth that such decision is illegal, capricious or arbitrary in whole or in part, specifying the grounds. Such petition shall be presented to the court within 30 days after the filing of the decision in the office of the Board.