Appellate Court Rules For Community – County Council Changes Law to Allow Double Density

What were they thinking? What about zoning regulations in RC4 and RC5? Do they not matter any more?

The Muellers asked for and got permission from Baltimore County to sink a 2.d well for irrigation and build a two-story, detached garage with storage, but in fact built a 2.d home with a bathroom and utilities on the l,t floor, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, and full kitchen on the 2,,d; all served by their new well and an unpermitted septic system. Then they petitioned the County to bless the defacto subdivision of their single lot as an “in-law” apartment. The neighbors and FRCA opposed the Petition, and the County Zoning Officer said No! The Muellers appealed to the County Board of Appeals , but the Board denied their Petition, finding:

The current precedent is to allow “in-law” living quarters as an addition to an existing dwelling, where there is the medical necessity ofan elderly relative. Under this precedent, this matter does not meet the requirements to allow “in-law” living quarters in the existing accessory structure. The Board is concerned that by allowing the current living arrangement in the existing accessory building, the density of the property is increased beyond what is allowable in RC 4 and RC 5 zones.

The Muellers then appealed to the County Circuit Court which said, SURE. So, the FRCA appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, and last month the appellate Court reversed the Circuit Court and reinstated the ruling of the County Board of Appeals, finding:

The Board’s statement that the “current precedent is to allow ‘in-law’ living quarters as an addition to an existing dwelling, where there is the medical necessity of an elderly relative,” is amply supported by the evidence.

In addition, the Board noted that:

There was no testimony presented why [the Mueller's' son] cannot reside in the main dwelling, other than he frequently entertains fellow students and friends and some stay overnight. To reclassify the accessory structure as an “in-law apartment” is a misnomer.

This is another way of saying that allowing a healthy, college-age son to live in a separate residence on the same lot is not the sort of “comfort, convenience or
necessity” contemplated by the County Council when it enacted the definition of accessory use. We defer to the Board’s interpretation of the BCZR.

So, the Community wins, right? Wrong!

On July 6 more than a month before the Appellate Court released its Opinion, the County Council introduced Bill [now Bill 49-11 ] which grants every owner of a single standing house in the entire County the right to get a permit to have a second dwelling on their single lot so long as they certify that both dwellings will be occupied by ANY member of an immediate family.

Thus, every large house in our community can now add a second residence on the property to allow junior to move home without having to share a messy kitchen with him.

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