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Duties and Responsibilities
as the County's Legislature...
The Howard County Council is the Legislative branch of local government under authorization of the Howard County Charter--the County's constitution. The Council consists of five members who serve four-year terms and who, since 1986, have been elected from five separate districts. There is a three term limit for Council members. As the legislative branch of government, the Council's major responsibility is approving the laws for Howard County. The Council's powers include annual authorization of the County's operating and capital budgets as well as approval of County tax rates. The legislative body authorizes the issuance of all County bonds and approves all master plans for the physical development of the County. The County Council amends the Zoning Regulations and approves the County's Comprehensive Zoning Plan, which is guided by the General Plan of the County.
The Howard County Code, which contains current laws for the County, can be found on-line at www.municode.com.
as the Zoning Board...
Council members serve as the members of the Zoning Board, which guides the future growth of the County in accordance with the General Plan. The Zoning Board is responsible for amending the zoning of individual pieces of property. It approves preliminary development plans, required as the first step for developing property in zoning districts such as New Town or Mixed Use.
as the Liquor Board...
In Howard County, the five Council members also sit as the local Board of License Commissioners, known as the Liquor Board. Their duties include issuance and revocation of licenses to sell alcoholic beverages and assuring adherence to Maryland laws and the County's rules and regulations pertaining to the sale of alcoholic beverages. In 1998, an appointed Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board was established. The Liquor Board may assign certain of its duties to the Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board, but the Liquor Board remains the final authority on disputed matters. Applications for liquor licenses may be made through the Administrator to the Board of License Commissioners.
Constituent service is a primary focus for Council members. They and their professional support staff are always available to assist citizens in dealing with County government agencies or to work on their behalf on problems related to State or federal government. Council members help residents with questions or concerns relating to the public education system, road repair, the County's growth and development, zoning infractions, animal control, building code problems, liquor violations, and many other matters.
How YOU can participate in local government...
The Council welcomes your participation.
- Attend public hearings and testify. Hearings and work sessions are held in the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD.
- The hearings are broadcast on GTV channels Comcast 99 and Verizon 44 and live streamed to the internet. Click on Watch Us in the right hand navigation of this page.
- Write, call or E-mail your Council members.
- Volunteer to serve on one of the County's many citizen boards and commissions. Click here the see a full list of Boards and Commissions.
My Neighborhood...your neighborhood and your property.