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Altman, 410 827-4880 or 410 715-8139
TOP MARYLAND COURT FAST-TRACKS
CHALLENGE TO FOUR SEASONS
Citizen opponents of the Four Seasons development on Kent Island are hailing the January 22 decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals to expedite consideration of a legal challenge to the development.
Early last year, Circuit Judge John W. Sause dismissed, on procedural grounds, a citizens’ lawsuit challenging the Four Seasons Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) as unlawful special zoning. The plaintiffs, led by Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, appealed, and Maryland’s highest court has now ordered, on its own initiative, that the appeal by-pass the usual Court of Special Appeals consideration and come directly to the high court for prompt resolution.
“Immediate consideration by the high court saves many months, even years, of precious time,” said Richard Altman, an individual plaintiff and chairman of the Save Our County citizens group. “Further, the Court’s action indicates the statewide importance and substance of the issues we are raising about the legality of Four Seasons negotiations with the County.”
The Court of Appeals’ order calls for a hearing at the May Session of Court.
“What this means,” said Altman, “is that in a matter of six months this lawsuit may be back in Queen Anne’s Circuit Court, for a resolution on the merits, not just procedural wrangling. When the County adopted the DRRA in September 2002, it bargained away its governmental responsibility to regulate land use in the public interest. We believe that’s against Maryland law, and now are finally getting close to having the courts focus on what has happened here.”
Queen Anne’s Conservation, along with Kent Island community leaders Rick Moser and Robert Foley, is also a plaintiff in a second lawsuit challenging Four Seasons. That lawsuit, scheduled for its first hearing in the Circuit Court later this month, attacks the October 2003 Settlement Agreement between Four Seasons and the County, asserting that it constitutes an illegal amendment to the potentially illegal DRRA.
The Settlement Agreement was executed by Commissioners Cassell, Cupani and Niedomanski when, following adverse rulings by Judge Sause, they decided to abandon the County’s own legal challenge to the DRRA. Commissioners Koval and Ransom refused to sign the Settlement Agreement and have continued to voice their opposition to Four Seasons.
The plaintiffs in both of the Queen Anne’s Conservation lawsuits are represented by attorney C. Daniel Saunders of Chestertown. Queen Anne’s Conservation is a citizens’ preservation group founded in 1970 to oppose construction of a nuclear power plant outside of Centreville.
Richard S. Altman
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