October 31, 2012

Taylor Legal Will Donate to Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

We sincerely wish the best for those adversely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. In an effort to provide relief to those suffering from the storm and the aftermath, Taylor Legal will be donating 10% of our net profit from the month of November 2012 to Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon is a nonprofit organization primarily composed of former military members who volunteer in the field for disaster areas, including areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

For more information regarding Team Rubicon, please visit their website at http://teamrubiconusa.org/.

October 16, 2012

What is Howard County 2012 Comprehensive Zoning?

          Zoning or rezoning in Howard County is primarily conducted in two ways.  Approximately every ten years, the County Council undergoes a legislative process called comprehensive zoning during which county officials review the entire county zoning map, hold hearings, and, ultimately, making a legislative decision about how to best assign zones throughout the county.  In between Comprehensive Zoning cycles, through a process called piecemeal rezoning, individual property owners can petition for a rezoning of a particular parcel of land if the property owner can establish that there was a mistake during the last Comprehensive Zoning cycle that resulted in an incorrect zoning assignment or that there has been a significant change to the area such that the current zoning category is inconsistent.  The Zoning Board (which, in reality, is comprised of the County Council members, but in this forum they are wearing different “hats”) then makes a quasi-judicial determination whether the facts support a rezoning of the property.
       The 2012 Howard County Comprehensive Zoning process has begun. The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning ("DPZ") will be making recommendations for both "Map Amendments" and "Zoning Regulation Amendments" ("ZRA") to the County Council. A “Map Amendment” is a zoning change that will result in the assignment of a different zone to a parcel or parcels of property during the zoning review process (for instance, a "residential use" property could be changed to a "commercial use" property). A ZRA is a change to the text of the Howard County Zoning Regulations (for instance, the minimum lot size for a residence could be changed to allow more houses in a development).
         In addition to recommendations being made by DPZ, property owners can submit applications for Map Amendments starting October 15 through December 14.  Property Owners may also submit proposals for ZRA's. All of these applications will be reviewed by DPZ, the Planning Board and the County Council. Any requested change must be in harmony with the new General Plan for the County, called PlanHoward2030, which is now in effect and sets the parameters for zoning preferences and sets forth the general land use goals for the County for the next 10 to 20 years.
       Whether or not a property owner wishes to submit an application for a map amendment or ZRA, all residents of the County can find out what changes are being requested and attend the public meetings and hearings to weigh in on proposed changes.   

October 11, 2012

HoCo Announces Comprehensive Rezoning!

Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning announced today that it will launch
 the countywide rezoning process and will be accepting proposals for zoning map and regulation
amendments between October 15 and December 14, 2012. For more information, see the announcement sent out by the county today (.pdf).

October 8, 2012

North Laurel Residential Development

From explorehoward.com: Proposed residential development in North Laurel gets mixed reviews

Maryland Corkage Law

By Dave Minogue (originally posted to Flickr as P4269130.JPG) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Dave Minogue (originally posted to Flickr as P4269130.JPG) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This past April, Maryland passed a law approving corkage. Corkage is the practice of bringing your own wine to a restaurant that already has a wine menu. Corkage allows patrons to enjoy a wine that is not already stocked by the restaurant. This differs from some Baltimore restaurants BYOB practice, as it only applies to restaurants that already have a liquor license that allows them to serve wine.

According to the Washington Post, there are three conditions set forth by the corkage law:
  1. Underage or intoxicated persons should not be served, even their own wine;
  2. A wine already on the restaurant’s list may not be brought in;
  3. Restaurants must obtain a permit from their local liquor board.
Customers should note that restaurants do not have to allow corkage in their establishment. Additionally, restaurants that do allow corkage may charge a corkage fee to open a bottle for diners. The law does not stipulate a maximum or minimum for this fee. The Baltimore Sun asserts that corkage fees can range from $20 to $40 per bottle. Sales tax will apply to the corkage fee.

In Howard County, the Board of License Commissioners has issued a list of requirements pertaining to corkage practices. Included are the notations that patrons must order a meal and that bottles that are unfinished must be either poured out or recorked.