Bernstein & Feldman, P.A.

Providing Personal Counsel
And Representation For Over
30 Years

Maryland school board notices notice flaw in school site hearing

The Maryland State Board of Education recently sent a school site decision back to Baltimore County. The local board had voted to take over a 20-acre city park to build an elementary school in a public hearing on March 19, 2012. However, the board had not properly advertised the hearing, the state said, so residents were not able to air their opinions about the site selection.

Maryland law protects residents from random state actions by mandating that hearings like the school board's be open to the public. An open forum, however, is useless if the public has no idea the hearing is occurring, so the law also lays out notice requirements. Boards of education must publish a meeting notice a certain number of days in advance and publish it in "a newspaper of general circulation" in the county. In this case, the notice did not appear in a Baltimore County newspaper.

The Baltimore school system needs the new facility to ease overcrowding in other city schools, according to the local board. Residents, however, feel the park is a real asset to the community, adding to property values for surrounding neighborhoods. The area is dotted with condominiums, assisted living facilities and townhouse developments, and residents say the park is used heavily by everyone in the area. Not only will they lose the park, said one local homeowner, but the school will increase traffic in the area, and that, too, will affect property values and residents' quality of life.

The Maryland school board issued the opinion in response to complaints that local school leadership was, in one resident's words, ramming the plan through. The Baltimore board has promised to publish the notices appropriately and said it will go above and beyond the requirements by advertising on local television, the Internet and through other local media outlets.

While more than 200 people attended the March hearing, and 42 people testified, the state board would not budge on the notice rule. The rescheduled hearing will be held Jan. 14, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. The project was originally scheduled for completion in August 2014.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Balto. Co. didn't notify public about Mays Chapel school hearing," Alison Knezevich, Dec. 19, 2012

Our firm helps clients with real estate disputes similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Annapolis, Maryland, real estate litigation page.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information