Tuesday, November 30, 2004

COSA Zoning Appeal Case Filed On Time!

How do I know God is in this case? Because He is my law school! Praising God all the way.

The Lord sent me to get involved in this church zoning fight. By all means, this case should have been over. and the church should be in their new building by now. But they chose to do it their way and not God's. And they still do not understand that God is fighting this battle. The Lord took this case from being the neighborhood's fight (located near the church) to being His battle.

Since 1998, this case has gone from including many names on the complaint to:

Rev. Lainie Dowell vs First Baptist Church of Guilford
Howard County Board of Appeals
Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning
County Council - Howard County
County Executive - Howard County
Civil Appeal No. 13-C-04-057788AA
Circuit Court - Howard County (MD)

Case No. 01020, September Term 2004
Court of Special Appeals, Annapolis, MD

Some years ago, on the night that the Lord first sent me to observe the church zoning board hearing, the pastor and church members went believing they were to witness the Board of Appeal's previously announced approval of their church permit application. But as I sat by and watched with a few others in opposition and many more times church members in support, the Board of Appeals members sat at a table stretched across the room in front of all of us and they deliberated about the church until about 11 p.m. Then we all watched as one by one they changed their minds (with the paper already in front of them ready for their signatures). Instead, one of the board members said, 'Take this back (approval order) and have them write a new order denying the application."

That was a stunner to all who witnessed it. People were so shocked that my voice was the only one that could be heard as I exhaled. It was an amazing moment! They all piled out of the room as if they had attended the saddest funeral in their lives -- from the pastor to the last person from that church. And they all looked at me with daggers, as they went out of the room. And it has continued like that with this case ever since. The church would get approved and then get denied on appeal. Twice two different judges have remanded that case to the Board with their decisions and orders to deny the case and dismiss it. Even when the Hearing Examiner held many hearings (it seems), in the final analysis of his 32-page decision and order, everything seemed positive for the church until the very last paragraph, where the Hearing Examiner wrote that the church application was denied and the variance application was dismissed. I had to reread it, because I wanted to find where there might have been a clue in earlier pages that the case was going to be denied. For a few minutes, I was thoroughly confused! lol

But, today (Tuesday, November 30th) was the last day for me to get my brief into the Court of Special Appeals (COSA), in Annapolis, Maryland, where I have an administrative appeal pending, pro se. I always rely on the Lord, because I do not know what to do with a blank sheet of paper. But, in the past two days, including this morning, it was done.

Today, before 10:30 a.m., I had completed fifteen (15) copies to file in Annapolis COSA, then by 11:30 a.m., I delivered one (1) copy to the Ellicott City Circuit Court, and I mailed copies to the attorneys of record. And my soul felt so calm. I just knew the angels accompanied me. Thanks to God, I met the deadline and I feel so free today. I am praising God every step of the way.

For doubters who told me that I could not stand a chance taking this case further on my own, (and I ignored their comments every time!) that church zoning case is all about putting trust in God and it is demonstrating to all in that dead church that God is really real. This is all for His glory and for a witness to onlookers to understand that our God lives and He can do whatever He wants. Including taking His hand away from a church, as He has done for FBCG. But I am so glad God taught me to trust and obey Him.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

DPZ Advances FBCG SDP!

On Friday, November 27, 2004, I received a copy of the November 22, 2004, comments that DPZ had made about the FBCG site development plan application (SDP).

Based on that report, it appears the combined deception continues. How so? The process DPZ is using still does not conform to their own rules, laws, and procedures. Yet, DPZ is allowing FBCG to proceed with their (DPZ's) specific instructions to the church on how to succeed towards getting signature approval on their SDP to commence construction at their church.

FBCG had not timely returned a completed application to DPZ and it is still not properly completed. The procedures state that incomplete applications are, by law, to be rejected and the applicant (FBCG) is supposed to start over with the whole process. But, once again, DPZ has disregarded that part of the procedure, also.

My pending Circuit Court Administrative Appeal for Judicial Review is stayed pending action on my Court of Special Appeals case against DPZ and FBCG and both are proceeding on schedule.

Look for more to come on this matter.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Dowell Appeals DPZ-FBCG Rulings

This newsletter is designed to present a first-person update in the matter of the Howard County, Maryland, Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) and its administrative rulings on behalf of The First Baptist Church of Guilford property(FBCG).


This update may be of particular interest to readers. The Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) approved the First Baptist Church of Guilford (FBCG) plans to add on or build a larger structure and parking lot. However, the department regulations prove it was an illegal act. After the Board of Appeals had rejected my motion for reconsideration and before the time ran out, I filed an administrative appeal with the Howard County Circuit Court. I also filed a motion for stay to keep the church from proceeding with providing site development plans and, also, a motion for change of venue to remove the case from this county, because of the church's conflict of interest with the county council and the Howard County government officials. The Circuit Court denied both of those motions, and I appealed. However, the court had scheduled a trial date for January 2005.

I filed an administrative appeal with the Court of Special Appeals (COSA) in Annapolis, MD, for a ruling on the Circuit Court's denial of my two (2) motions. Then, on September 10, 2004, The Circuit Court ruled a stay on the lower court case pending a ruling by the COSA. The date scheduled for the COSA hearing is March 2005.

The DPZ has proceeded without the legal provisions of the church having to go through the public hearing process for its input. Meanwhile, FBCG has conducted a large groundbreaking ceremony. Included in the audience and participants were members of the county council.