By a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Earl F. “Buddy” Hance (R) dissenting, the commissioners voted to expand the Calvert County Board of Appeals from three members to five.
The action – which took place during the commissioners’ June 23 meeting – will result in the county paying $12,000 more per year. Each board of appeals member is paid $500 per meeting, and the board typically meets once a month.
The action came in spite of each of the appeals board’s three current members objecting to the proposal.
In a June 9 letter that appeals board chair Susan Hance-Wells wrote to the commissioners, she noted that very few board of appeals’ cases have been overturned. “We’re concerned why the board of county commissioners initiated this process,” she said. “We do not see that adding two members will increase the efficiency or quality of our motions.”
Commissioner Steve Weems (R) noted that Charles and St. Mary’s counties each have five members with one alternate on their board of appeals. However, Prince George’s County only has three members on its appeals board, according to a planning document.
Calvert has had three board of appeals members since 1964, a planning document states. It sometimes has had one alternate, but currently has two, which it would retain after adding two members.
“In eight years, only one person has applied” for an open seat who was not already on the board, Hance said. He noted that one current member has requested not to be reappointed, so the board will soon have three vacancies to fill. Commissioner Thomas E. “Tim” Hutchins (R) said the commission is “looking for a broader view. This board needs the broadest view possible.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Hance said. County Planning Director Mary Beth Cook noted they will have to advertise the new positions.