County Executive Pittman Signs Executive Order to Reinforce Community Engagement During COVID-19 Crisis.

County Executive Pittman Signs Executive Order to Reinforce Community Engagement During COVID-19 Crisis.

County Executive Steuart Pittman signed an executive order allowing Anne Arundel County boards and commissions to conduct virtual meetings.

The order comes at a time of public health emergency which has crippled all government and private functions and businesses, leaving us with fewer options, one of which is virtual meetings. The order also reinforces the requirement for a public community meeting as part of the development process, while allowing development review to proceed.

“Community engagement has been the cornerstone of our administration,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman. “Pausing the activities of our boards and commissions, and waiving the requirement for community meetings before subdivision applications are approved, were both contrary to our core principles. I applaud the work of our Office of Law in developing new guidelines to facilitate this engagement.”

On March 30, Governor Hogan signed a “stay at home” directive that prohibited public gatherings, which rendered in-person boards and commissions meetings unlawful. Today’s executive order allows official public meetings of county advisory boards and commissions to be held via video meeting platforms, as long as proper notice is given to allow the public to sign on, view, and listen to the meeting.

The executive order also clarifies the role of public community meetings for development projects. During normal business times, developers must hold community meetings prior to submitting development applications. However, the Office of Planning and Zoning determined that virtual meetings would not allow for the desired level of public engagement. Therefore the Office is requiring developers to hold community meetings after the public health emergency has passed. 

However, during this time county planners will continue to review new applications for development. This will keep county planners and private engineers and architects working during the crisis, which has caused a dramatic increase in the number of unemployed, without sacrificing critical community feedback in the process. County planners will withhold comments and decisions until they have a chance to review notes from those meetings.

Executive Order #19 is available on the county website: https://www.aacounty.org/departments/county-executive/executive-orders/steuart-pittman/SP-19.pdf

Source/Anne Arundel County Website