20, 2006 – For Immediate Release
SAUSE RULING PUTS
Circuit Court Judge John Sause has ruled that he will not consider the latest set of Critical Area Maps for the proposed Four Seasons project on Kent Island. In so ruling, the Judge left in place his February injunction against the project until the parties’ appeals from that injunction are finally concluded.
Judge Sause expressed particular concern over the recent map-signing by the majority of the County Commissioners (Koval and Ransom refusing to sign). Noting that it was “bad enough” that no maps were attached to the ordinance purporting to change the Critical Area zoning maps to allow Four Seasons to go ahead, and “bad enough, that two subsequent attempts at providing correct maps have been unsuccessful”, the Judge continued:
“To this we may now add the almost unbelievable misfortune that, in attempting to provide proof of compliance with the Open Meetings Act in connection with the County’s latest effort, it was found by local transcribers that the recording tape was indecipherable, the tape was thereafter sent to an expert in the mid-west (said to be a retired CIA agent), who then ‘deciphered’ all of the tape except the parts relating to action with respect to the new maps.”
Stating that under the circumstances it would “an abuse of discretion” for him to consider the latest maps, the Judge indicated that he would not proceed further without guidance from a higher state court. He observed pointedly that plaintiffs contend that it is too late to try to create maps that should have been created five years ago. The Judge said he had so far taken “a different view” on this fundamental issue but was now unwilling to proceed further without appeals court support for his viewpoint.
Plaintiffs are represented by Chestertown lawyer Daniel Saunders, who, through an associate, expressed satisfaction with the Judge’s ruling but was not immediately available for further comment. Subject to advice from their counsel, however, plaintiffs believe that the time necessarily required for the pending appellate proceedings will extend well into 2007. Accordingly, plaintiff and long-time Four Seasons foe Bob Foley declared happily: “Judge Sause has put Four Seasons back on the shelf, where it belongs, and where I hope it will pass its sell-by date on the way to the dumpster.”
Other litigation related to Four Seasons remains active in Judge Sause’s court, including a challenge to the Settlement Agreement between the County and K. Hovnanian and the issue of whether Hovnanian may have violated the Judge’s stand-still injunction by going forward to obtain state permits for the project.
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