Tom Peddy: Voters did speak on referendum … in Baltimore County

By Thomas L. Peddy

The hotly debated issues of gun control and the death penalty attracted just 18,500 signatures, while the seemingly more mundane issues of Owings Mills traffic, preserving the County’s diminishing industrial opportunities and the undemocratic zoning process that makes those decisions attracted more than 170,000 signatures.

The 170,000 signatures on the zoning petitions represent a number that is more than half of the Baltimore County citizens that voted in the last election. Think about that statistic. Two issues of national interest, in which the whole state of Maryland had the opportunity to lend their voice, got a fraction of the support that zoning issues specific to Baltimore County voters received.

It is clear that local citizens are frustrated with the process and want their elected officials to make decisions in a collaborative process, incorporating expert input and based upon what is best for Baltimore County as a whole rather relying on a purely individual politically driven process.

A reasonable referendum process guarantees direct citizen participation in the decision making process.

It is time to reform the rezoning process. The voices of Baltimore County citizens should be heard; this issue deserves a place on the ballot in 2014.

Thomas L. Peddy is a principal of Foxleigh Enterprises, an owner of Green Spring Station whose existing retail property was downzoned in the last CZMP cycle.