As you may recall from Part One of this blog post I agreed to help a client obtain the proper authorizations to park a travel trailer in the year yard of one of his properties in Baltimore City. The proposed use had been denied by the Zoning Administrator and I was required to schedule a hearing with the Baltimore City Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals (“BMZA”). Prior to scheduling the hearing I was required to submit site plans which I did not have available.
STEP 1: Drafting a site plan
The site plan requirements are straightforward and can be prepared by anyone as an engineer or architect’s seal is not required.
The image to the left is a copy of a site plan I prepared in about a half hour using available resources.
STEP 2: Filing a site plan with the City of Baltimore
Filing the site plans is as easy as handing them to the clerk in the offices of the BMZA. The clerk will perform a preliminary review and if the site plans fulfill all requirements a hearing date is assigned. The hearing dates are usually assigned in order of application and it can take anywhere from four to six weeks from filing for the appeal to be heard.
STEP 3: Posting a hearing sign on the property
Prior to the scheduled hearing date, a hearing sign must be posted on the property to give notice to the community of the relief that is being sought from the BMZA along with details on the hearing date and location. The wording of the sign is supplied by the BMZA on a form that is used as a template for the sign that must be posted. It is recommended that an appellant (the person filing the appeal) meet with the appropriate community association and/or business association to share the plans for the property with community stakeholders.
Both of these measures are calculated to inform those concerned of the plans for your property. Reaching out to those affected by your new proposed use will also identify areas of concern that can be addressed before you are standing before the BMZA waiting for their decision. In a best case scenario, the community association or business association will provide you with a letter of support that can be introduced at your hearing and is considered by the BMZA.
STEP 4: Appearing before the Baltimore City Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals (BMZA) for approval
Having posted my sign and had discussions with the community associations, I appeared before the BMZA on behalf of my client. I was holding out hope that we would be on the consent docket, meaning the BMZA considered the appeal before the hearing and decided that absent and objection from the community or the Baltimore City Department of Planning they would grant the relief sought. Sadly, there was no such luck with the Airstream project and I was asked to formally present the project.
After presenting the proposed use to the BMZA, members of the board asked questions concerning the dimensions of the Airstream, where it would be situated on the lot and the use to which it would be put. They also explained the conditions that must be followed in order to store the Airstream in the rear yard of my client’s property. So long as my client agreed to these conditions, which it did, they allowed the use. After securing a Use & Occupancy Permit, my client will be able to store his Airstream in his yard without issue.
If you have any questions about this process do not hesitate to contact us!