HOWARD COUNTY’S URBAN RENEWAL LAW
IS CONSTITUTIONALLY DEFECTIVE
The Howard County Urban Renewal Law as codified in the Howard County Code is constitutionally defective. It was initially adopted by the General Assembly pursuant to a special grant of power found in the Maryland Constitution. Local governments cannot amend urban renewal laws as enacted by the General Assembly—a principle expressed in an opinion of the Maryland Attorney General. The Constitution has an ambiguity and an unanswered question regarding what to do with the references to county commissioners when a county adopts a charter subsequent to the enactment of a public local law for urban renewal. Howard County has amended the urban renewal law several times, beginning after the adoption of the County Charter in 1968. On at least two instances, these amendments have been substantive in nature: transferring review of the urban renewal plan from the Planning Commission to the Office of Planning and Zoning and removing the interest rate cap on bonds. Anne Arundel County has had a similar history regarding its urban renewal authorization and adoption of a charter, however, the county subsequently received legislative relief and clarification by the General Assembly.
The full memorandum which was requested by the Howard County Solicitor can be read here:
This memorandum was emailed to the Howard County Law Department on January 29, 2016. The response from the County can be read here:
Oh, sorry you can’t read it because County Solicitor Gary Kuc has declined to give any response even after repeated inquiries.