Tag Archives: permits

Signs of the Times

16 Sep

Back in the late 1600s, until just after the American Revolution, Joppa Towne was a thriving seaport and the county seat. When the harbor silted up and malaria became a serious problem the people moved away. Both the church and the town were abandoned. In the early 1960s a developer bought up the farm land and established a planned community here. In doing the title search, he discovered the Episcopal Diocese had been deeded several acres in perpetuity by George II. We were not inclined to give it up, so the developer had to revamp his plans.  The diocese reestablished the parish, which is called Resurrection, as it has come full circle.

HistoricJoppaSignThis sign was originally out on the main highway, and remained there until about ten years ago, when some sort of landscaping was done. The highway department took it down and was going to trash it, until the church asked if it could be saved.

The Squire and I went up to the  country court house to see about having it replaced along the highway. The original spot was gone, so it would have to be in a new place. This is where the fun started.

We asked about getting a permit or something to set the sign, and the man was astounded. “You mean you want to do it legally?”  “Well, yes. We’re a church so we thought it would be nice to do it right.”

We needed to go to room 302 or something. That lady told us we had the wrong place and sent us to room 130. They sent us to the basement. And so it went. We went to half a dozen places, and ended up back where we started. Along the way we were told we needed to file a plat of the area. I pointed out that there was a shopping center right there. “Why can’t you pull that plat?” We don’t have one. “Did you toss it, or did they do all that work without one?” Hmmm.

In the end we gave it up as a bad deal, and the sign ended up on the church property. We didn’t need permission to do that.

Now, the Vestry wants to move it back to the highway. We are way off the beaten track, and the sign would help direct people to the area.  The Squire and I are not offering to help.

I’m From the Government…

28 Feb

Last year, our rector was at the local MARC station at the unholy hour of 4:45 on Ash Wednesday to provide “Ashes to Go” to those who desired them.

I don’t know if he had or needed a permit, but this year he does. We got a call today from someone in the Harford County Government who said the permit could not be issued because we “were not in good standing, as we had not paid personal property taxes for the last three years”.

First of all, the State of Maryland does not have a personal property tax, and second, as a church we would be exempt even if there was one. Who are they going to bill? God? When the call came in, our Senior Warden happened to be there, as well as The Squire, who was working on plats to take to the County Seat to get this shed business untangled. The SW put the call on speaker-phone, and it was obvious from the answers the man on the other end gave us that he had NO clue what he was talking about. We’d ask a question and he’d circle around and come back at it from another direction. He finally gave us a URL to file the paperwork on-line, but the options as to “what sort of business are you running?” did not include a section for churches.

At the moment, The Squire is off to the County Seat and the SW was going home to call the 800 number and see what the devil is going on.

If this keeps up, I’m going to become a Libertarian.