9/8/2006 The Court of
Special Appeals has denied K Hovnanian’s motion
April 2, 2006
"Jim Campbell, a retired
attorney and a member of the board of Queen Anne’s Conservation Association,
wrote a March 12 letter to Ransom endorsing his proposal to have the county
hire outside counsel.
What would you think -- if you and your neighbors had to take your local government to court to enforce local laws?
What would you think -- if your local Circuit Court judge determined that Chesapeake Bay Critical Area maps for intensely developed areas on Kent Island were reviewed by Planning Dept staff and signed by County Commissioners - but were "inaccurate, admittedly inaccurate"?
What would you think -- if your local Circuit Court judge issued an injunction to stop work on a development project and then had to send the sheriff in to inform the Planning Dept that they were violating his order?
What would you think -- if your local Circuit Court judge said..."Never before in my experience have I seen such a comedy of errors, and a true comedy it is, if it weren't so sad and so serious"?
What would you think -- if your local Circuit Court judge said..."One can have no confidence in anything that was done by the County. I mean, they are their own worst enemy"?
What would you think -- if your local Circuit Court judge said..."how in heaven's name anyone could have allowed an ordinance to get passed referring to plats that weren't attached is totally beyond me"?
What would you think -- if your local Circuit Court judge said..."whatever comes out of this case, I think it was shameful. It was bureacracy at its worst, and more than that, it was plain old, down right rude"?
Believe it or not, all this just happened in Queen Anne's County!
A whole lot of YOUR TAX DOLLARS are being spent to pay the Planning Department staff and their high-dollar attorneys to conduct themselves in this manner and defend their actions in court.
Pretty amazing, isn't it???
The QAC Commissioners might like to know what you think...you can contact them at: email@example.com This email address is delived to all 5 Commissioners.
QAC Planning Commissioners
THE GOOD NEWS IS: Finally – after more than a year – the Planning Commission will hold a Public Hearing on the Chester/Stevensville Community plan that was submitted to them by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).
THE BAD NEWS IS: During that year, the Planning Commission has proceeded to make significant changes to the citizens draft. These Planning Commission changes will affect you.
To go directly to the Planning Commission’s Draft of the Chester/Stevensville Community Plan, click on http://www.qac.org/depts/planzone/docs/citizen4.htm
Or visit www.qac.org, What’s New and then Chester/Stevensville Community Plan. (Note: The Citizens Draft Plan is not on the County website.) KIDL Web Guy asks Q.A.C. "WHY NOT"?
This is an important issue for the future of Kent Island. More details on these changes will be posted at a later date. Your support will be important for the adoption of a plan that reflects what was submitted by the CAC.
The Queen Anne’s County
KIDL approves of the Vision as drafted by the CAC.
On a 3-1 vote Queen Annes County Commissioner
Be Sure To Visit The New Website
by 3 to 2 vote (no surprise there...)
Seasons hearing December 8
"The Planning Commission of Queen Anne’s County hereby gives notice that this land is the subject of a public meeting for requesting final site plan and subdivision approval for Phase 1 proposing 106 single family lots and final site plan approval for condo units in 4 buildings".
Mr. Kramer withdraws his involvement in the ELM STREET project in a letter to The Town Commissioners dated February 8th 2005.
The Talbot Preservation Alliance has had experience dealing with Elm Street Development Corporation in an effective way. They would like to share their experience with those of us facing the same issues here in Queen Anne's County. If you are interested in learning from their experience and developing a network of like-minded citizens, please call me direct at 410-827-4841 to indicate your interest in attending.Thanks, Peter Robertson
Freinds of Queenstown Press Release
As reported in the Record Observer:
The County Commissioners held workshops last week to revise the county’s Interim Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (IAPFO) and write a new growth management ordinance. All 5 commissioners voted to seek proposals from consultants to work on both projects.
Commissioner Ransom would like the revised APFO to include additional provisions to address public safety and to tighten the threshold for school improvements to 100% capacity (instead of the current 120%).
The current IAPFO does not apply to the incorporated towns and does not apply to developments of less than 20 homes. For example, the land currently proposed to be annexed into the incorporated town of Queenstown would not fall under the County’s APFO – yet the County would be responsible for providing for services such as school construction and school payroll. Commissioner Cassell is pushing for a bill to be passed by the State that would allow for construction in municipalities and incorporated towns to fall under County APFO provisions.
We are pleased that both of these items are finally getting some attention. These are important tools in planning for our future. As concerned citizens, we need to stay informed and involved as these projects move forward.
In addition, Commissioner Ransom has drafted a proposal to establish a county growth allocation policy. Growth Allocation is when a property is allowed additional growth potential within a Critical Area. As you can imagine, this allows an enormous potential for profit for the development. Each County has a limited amount of acreage that can be awarded for Growth Allocation. Commissioner Ransom commented that “we have a very valuable commodity and we should be very careful before we give it out”.
BOARD OF APPEALS WILL HEAR
The Queen Anne’s County Board of Appeals has decided to proceed to a hearing on the merits of a lawsuit brought by Queen Anne’s Conservation Association and several citizens against the proposed K. Hovnanian Four Seasons development on Kent Island.
On January 27, following oral argument by counsel, the Board lifted a stay of the lawsuit that had been in effect since shortly after the lawsuit was filed in December 2003. The Board determined that the stay no longer applied, since Circuit Judge Thomas Ross had recently decided that the Board of Appeals, and not his court, was the proper forum for the lawsuit.
The proposed Four Seasons development on Kent Island is an age-restricted, 1350-unit residential project situated almost entirely (89% of the project property) within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area.
The Queen Anne’s Conservation lawsuit challenges the October 2003 agreement of the County Commissioners and K. Hovnanian to resolve their differences and to go forward with the Four Seasons project. The Plaintiffs allege the 2003 agreement, that incorporates and expands upon the 2002 DRRA (Developer’s Rights and Responsibilities Agreement) for Four Seasons, violates several provisions of State and local law.
After the Board of Appeals ruling, plaintiff Richard Altman stated: “We are gratified that we are finally before a tribunal that will examine the illegalities that have been accumulating as this project has moved forward. For over two years, with procedural maneuvering, K. Hovnanian has denied us our day in court. The Board of Appeals is the same tribunal that will also hear our appeal from the Planning Commission’s preliminary (and, should they get that far, final) subdivision approval for Four Seasons. So we are now in a place where the irregularities and illegal overreaching associated with this inappropriate project are going to get an airing. We look forward to laying all this out in the public record during the next few weeks and months.”
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this project.
I would like to applaud the citizens who have appeared for today’s meeting. These people have been accused of many things, but the only thing you are guilty of is concern and perseverance. Most everyone respects that.
We haven’t had a public meeting on this project for quite a while, so I will provide a brief review. Back in 1997 this property went under contract. In 1998 a community plan was devised, and the property was upzoned from CS (Countryside) and SE to CMPD (Chester Master Plan Development) and SMPD (Stevensville Master Planned Development). The Planning Director who spearheaded this effort moved on and no longer works for this County. Right after the zoning got changed, a proposal for a prior version of this project was submitted. After submission, there were still some zoning problems, so our county changed zoning text so that the density calculations would work and that the commercial phasing would be less restrictive. Last month Ordinance 04-41 was passed as emergency legislation to allow gas distribution lines and liquid propane containers in the floodplain. When asked if this would affect this project, the staff indicated “all the roads and structures are out of the floodplain”. I do not believe this is correct, and have included this document for your review.
In 2000, I also attended community meetings where our Commissioners and County Staff praised this project and said the developer was paying for everything. Then I came across an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that the Commissioners (previous commissioners) had signed that said the County would float the bonds to pay for ALL off-site improvements and the sewer plant expansion as well as reimburse K Hovnanian for construction of off-site improvements. When one Commissioner (previous commissioner) was asked about this information, he denied the document existed or that he had signed it.
***********skipped in public testimony***********
When this project came up before this Planning Commission for Critical Area Growth Allocation, a petition with 2,198 signatures requesting denial of growth allocation was submitted to this Commission. This Commission did not honor that request. The County’s main reviewer on this project then moved on and no longer works for this County.
When the Growth Allocation request went before the state Critical Area Commission, I watched as our former Planning Commission Chairman spoke emphatically in support of this project, but then refused to vote. The former Commissioners never responded to my written request for an explanation of why he did not vote. That Planning Commission Chairman has since moved out of the area.
In September 2001 after Critical Area maps were changed by County Ordinance 01-01A, a petition with 4,409 signatures was submitted to the Board of Elections requesting a referendum. Our County Commissioners (previous commissioners) spent a lot of taxpayer money hiring expensive lawyers to deny the citizens the ability to vote on the matter. They prevailed, but are no longer Commissioners. I am giving you a copy of all 519 pages of those signatures so you will know which 4,409 of your friends and neighbors you will have to explain your decision to.
On September 17, 2002, one week after being voted out of office, the former Commissioners signed a DRRA for this project. The DRRA had been negotiated for us by Messrs Belton, Zimmerman, Johnson and Walls. 3 of those 4 people have since moved on, and no longer work for this County. At the time of signing, it had NOT been determined if the project complied with local development regulations as required by state law and County Code 18-1304(a)(9). The former Commissioners also signed this agreement after making substantial changes that were not reviewed by the Planning Commission. Planning Commission minutes from 5 days before the DRRA was signed indicate the Commission’s attorney advised that changes would have to be approved by this Commission. That review and approval has never occurred.
The fiscal study was full of holes and did not address the millions it will cost to equip and operate paid fire and EMS staff, nor did it address increasing debt service costs. Our Finance Director who approved this has also moved on, and you are left “holding the bag”!
I do not believe this project complies with the Roads Ordinance which was changed by emergency legislation on September 17, 2002.
I do not believe this project complies with County Code 18-1-053 that requires specific amounts of resource conservation in the Critical Area.
I do not believe this project
has been provided sewer allocation by the Sanitary Commission.
What can you do? Attend meetings if at all possible!
Write to our Commissioners!
This project is 1,350 housing units and includes 930 single-family units, 30 condo buildings that will each be 55ft high and each contain 14 units. The bulk of this project is in Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas that had been previously designated Resource Conservation Area. This project requires a substantial expansion of the KNSG sewer plant and will draw thousands of new residents to the area - which could easily overwhelm our existing infrastructure and degrade our quality of life.
It is very important for everyone in the entire county who cares about growth issues to attend this hearing!
*** HELP SEND ANOTHER MESSAGE TO OUR COUNTY GOVERNMENT ***
*** PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW ***
OK - we know everyone’s busy with the fun of summer and vacation – but there has been a very dedicated group of Kent Island residents spending their summer hard at work as members of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Stevensville and Chester Community Plans.
The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners had a Public Informational Meeting on August 26 to present information and hear public comment regarding a proposal to expand the existing sewer plant and to bring public sewer and water down Route 8, and to Marling Farms/ Dominion.
The decisions made as a result of this meeting will forever direct the future for all of Kent Island and its residents. The estimated cost to current homeowners is $40,000.
The Stevensville/Chester Citizens Advisory Committee have recommended using the State Grant to upgrade the nutrient removal process WITH NO EXPANSION of capacity.
PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS IN WRITING TO THE COMMISSIONERS
REMIND THEM WHY THEY WERE ELECTED!
A Vision for Chester and
FOUR SEASONS UPDATE:
By now, most of you have read the recent news article (Bay Times, August 4) that the State Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court’s denial for a hearing on one of the cases against Four Seasons. They have taken the stance that this should have been first filed with the Board of Zoning appeals. Both courts only ruled on the process used to challenge the DRRA – not the merits of the arguments.
Rich Altman, Queen Anne’s Conservation, stated to the commissioners on Tuesday evening that “the second, more comprehensive suit WILL CONTINUE. We are committed to a proper hearing on its merits”.
(A portion of Rich Altman’s statement to the commissioners is printed below.)
In August 16, Star Democrat: County seeks ruling on four Seasons sewer allocation.
The QAC Commissioners will ask for legal advice to determine if the county sanitary commission ever approved the sewer allocation for the Four Seasons at Kent Island project. The issue was discussed at a meeting attended by Commissioners Cupani, Koval, Ransom, Administrator Comfort and county staff from public works.
Ransom asked if the previous commissioners approved the sewer allocation for Four Seasons. Public Works Director Steve Walls said he understands the Four Seasons DRRA contained the sewer allocation approval. The previous commissioners approved the DRRA in September 2002, about 2 months before the end of their elected terms. Sewer allocation for a development normally is approved by the county commission sitting as the sanitary commission. The DRRA is a contract between the county and K. Hovnanian which specifies the developer’s and the county’s obligations during construction of Four Seasons (a planned community of 1,350 homes, 55 and over, and assisted living center).
Alan Quimby, county chief sanitary engineer, said Hovnanian never paid a deposit on the allocation fee. Normally, a deposit is required 10 days after the sanitary commission approves the allocation. Comfort said he will ask County Attorney Patrick Thompson to provide a written opinion. Ransom said two issues must be addressed: Was the allocation given? If it was, the 10 day period expired without a deposit paid, meaning the sanitary commission would have to vote again on the allocation request.
August 3, 2004 Statement to QAC Commissioners
Last Thursday we received a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling denying our right to a hearing in the first of our 2 suits because of where and how it was filed. In a nutshell, The State Court of Appeals “blindsided” us with a “new law”, but our second, more comprehensive suit WILL CONTINUE! We are committed to a proper hearing on its merits.
The prior commissioners approved growth allocation and a “development rights and responsibilities agreement” for the project in the last days of their administration in spite of overwhelming evidence that the electorate did not support their decisions.
Queen Anne’s Conservation and several individuals filed a timely appeal to those approvals in circuit court asking Judge Sause to determine if the prior Commissioners approvals were lawful. Without ever addressing the merits of our challenge the courts have denied further proceedings because we failed to appeal first to the Commissioner’s appointed Board of Zoning Appeals.
The State Court has chosen, as is their prerogative, to create “new law”, establishing a uniform procedure to be followed for all DRRA litigation. How were we supposed to know (at the time the suit was filed)?
This unjust result is disappointing, but cannot negate our second, most current and comprehensive suit. Our suit was filed three ways, including an appeal to the county Board of Appeals and can proceed in any of those tracks. When filed, Judge Ross, the Board of Appeals and Hovnanian all agreed the litigation should proceed in circuit court where it is currently pending. Does this make sense?
As noted by one of the CAC members, “Your fellow citizens on the CAC have remained true to what you voted for in 2002, even though a lot of pressure has been exerted to do otherwise and now we need your help. A brief visit to the High School on Wednesday (7/28) will be a lot more satisfying than biting your lip the next time another mega-development threatens Kent Island.”
If you were able to read The Bay Times this week, the front page article indicated that Gibson's Grant (a project near the Wendy's/Exxon on Kent Island ) was granted sewer allocation on May 5th by the Commissioners for 280 units.
The article indicated that people considered the agenda misleading (Chesapeake Environmental Center/White's Heritage "presentation"), that proper process was not followed (the plans have not been seen or approved by the Planning Commission), that Commissioner Ransom was not informed (the project is in his district), and a reduced flow factor was used to provide the allocation.
Looks like another example over our County Government bending over backwards to "assist" a developer.
This approval was made knowing that Kent Island will easily receive more than 2,000 new residential units and several large commercial projects over the next 6-7 years.
This is another decision that contradicts the wishes of many citizens who live on Kent Island.
If you object to this approval of sewer for yet another project on Kent Island, we urge you to call and email Commission President Ben Cassell, tell him what you think, and ask him to reconsider this approval at next Tuesday's meeting.
Home#: 410-643-0491 cell#: 410-490-1219
==> Please take a minute and let him know what you think <==
The meetings are available at the library on DVD. If you email us, we may be able to lend a copy on VHS).
The various town commissioners were there to meet with the QAC Commissioners.
The Town of Queenstown discussed future overpasses, a cost sharing agreement regarding anticipated development and the number of potential housing unit.
The Town of Centreville had conversations regarding expanding spray irrigation and removing open space covenants from land that might be annexed into the town.
Steve Hershey with the Maryland Department of Planning was there advising the Commissioners what to do with the additional capacity from the new sewer plant (half should be used for new growth in Priority Funding Areas (PFA).
The meeting is well worth watching and will give you an idea of where some people are trying to steer the county and its small towns.
The Feb. 24th Commissioner’s Meeting is a “must see” episode. The meetings are available at the library on DVD. If you email us, we may be able to lend a copy on VHS).
Tuesday evening at 6:30 in the
Liberty Building in Centreville,
107 N. Liberty Street.
They are televised on
During the Sanitary Commission agenda, the Commissioners (voting as the Sanitary Board) turned down sewer allocation to Gibson’s Grant. The vote was 3 to 2 (Cupani and Niedomanski voting for – Ransom, Koval, Cassell against). The Gibson's Grant proposal can be viewed at Development Plans submitted to QAC.
We understand that the discussion that took place should not be missed by anyone interested in where individual Commissioners stand with regard to development issues.
At Public Comment (7:00 p.m.), Rick Moser presented copies and discussed information on Ethics Code Provisions that have been proposed in several different Counties.
Some of the requirements are:
.…complete disclosures of
all payments/campaign contributions
HOT OFF THE PRESS: KIDL received the following press release regarding the continuation of the Four Seasons legal challenge.
As you can see from reading this, there are actually 2 lawsuit challenges. One had previously been dismissed by the QAC Circuit Court for procedural reasons. This has now been fast-tracked to be heard by the highest court in Maryland sometime in May. We will keep you posted on this schedule.
The second challenge will have a hearing in the QAC Circuit Court later this month. We will also keep you advised of this schedule as it is known.
If you have any questions or would like to know more, you can respond by email.
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. Read More.
Development Plans submitted to QAC
Rick Altman prepared a map of Kent Island marked in yellow showing all the properties that currently have S1/W1 sewer designation – these are properties not covered by the Ransom resolution that just passed about no more new S1 sewer designations until the Master S&W Plan is revised.
KIDL asks you to write the commissioners demanding (urging?) that all S1/W1 designations not currently under construction that are over 3 years old be automatically deleted (as it calls for in the plan).
You need to be aware that there are several more developments on Kent Island that were previously in the pipeline and are now coming back in front of the Planning Commission and/or the County Commissioners at various stages of approval. Your continued support is critical at this time.
Thursday, November 14, Gibson’s Grant was on the Planning Commission Agenda at 1:00 for Amended Site Plan Approval for 425 homes, a resort and lodge component with 60 lodge units on Piney Creek Service Road (across Route 50 from Safeway). At 9:00 the same day, the Tides Condominium requested major site plan approval for a 15 unit multiplex development on Piney Narrows Road. For more detail, view the full agenda at http://qac.org/depts/planzone/planage.htm.
Four Seasons and Ellendale were subdivisions left from the previous administration - and there are more coming right on their heels. What can you do? Attend meetings if at all possible! Write our Commissioners!
monthly meeting is the
A Concerned Citizen’s Check-List for New Title 18
Soon our new County Commissioners will be considering whether to approve a new zoning law: Title 18. This law will regulate land use and development in the County for the next several years.
Will the new Title 18 be better than what we have now? Will it protect the County’s heritage – or will it turn the County into a bedroom suburb of the Western Shore?
The answer depends both on what’s in the new Title 18 itself and on what other legal measures are put in place by the Commissioners when they adopt new Title 18. link
7,000 New Housing Units are pending approval in Queen Anne’s County
4,000 New Housing Units on Kent Island
QAC received the Lowest Marks on controlling Sprawl
Now is a good time to get involved!!!
The list of pending developments can be viewed HERE
Does this seem Responsible?
QAC’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance
allows Schools at 120% of
capacity and level D Road Service in Growth Areas
Fire/Police services, Health Care, Stormwater, Parks, Solid Waste, etc.
QAC’s Impact Fees are set well below Justifiable Amounts
Many QAC Infrastructure
Improvements will be financed by issuing
Duck Commissioners Sign
DRRA UPDATE SEPTEMBER 8, 2003: A final judgment on the Developer's Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) for the proposed Four Seasons development is expected soon from a Queen Anne's County judge - a judgment that could lead to either the resumption of work on the project, or an appeal of the judgment by the county commissioners.
FOR THE RECORD
Guidance TO PROTECT OUR HERITAGE AND SHAPE OUR FUTURE
This resolution was introduced during the Commissioner's meeting Tuesday by Commissioner Gene Ransom. The purpose is to state a vision for the County and to give the Planning Commission guidance as they revise Title 18 (zoning ordinance). The Commissioners will likely vote on the Resolution Tuesday January 14th.
Click To Read
Bill Evans' Two Cents Worth
The Kent Island Defense League is a volunteer organization of concerned citizens created in November 2000.
The Kent Island Defense
League Needs You!
As a resident of Queen Anne's County, you’ve certainly experienced that sigh of relief as you cross the Bay Bridge. Most of us would describe this county as a very special place – unlike any other.
Will we soon become better known for EXPLOSIVE GROWTH that will likely degrade our environment and destroy the quality of life that we treasure? As you fight your way through traffic, will you sigh instead at the sight of rooftops stretching farther than the eye can see?
The Kent Island Defense League is made up of volunteers, your friends and neighbors, who care very deeply about the Eastern Shore, the cumulative effect this explosive growth will have on our valuable natural resources, and its cost to the residents.
During our first year, KIDL achieved its goals to (1) raise public awareness on development and growth issues facing Queen Anne’s County, and (2) present our members’ views to elected and appointed decision makers. We continue to take action to protect the environment and enhance our quality of life.
2003 goals are to (1) raise public awareness on development and growth issues facing Queen Anne’s County, and (2) present our members’ views to elected and appointed decision makers. We continue to take action to protect the environment and enhance our quality of life. During our second year, KIDL was happy to see the elected Commissioners held accountable by the voting electorate.
2003 year's focus will be to:
Hold our NEWLY elected officials accountable for serious problems related to unchecked growth, and to remind them of their campaign promises.
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