He has promised it will come within 30 days.
Frederick, Md (KM). It’s a waiting game for a judge’s ruling on a massive residential project. On Tuesday, Frederick County Circuit Court Judge William Nicklas heard arguments regarding the approval process for the Monrovia Town Center.
Residents Against Landsdale Expansion stated that the record in the hearing leading up to the last Board of County Commissioners’ decision on the project was “tainted” because a letter purported to be from the Frederick Area Committee for Transportation expressing support for the development was introduced at the last minute. The missive was submitted by former Commissioner Paul Smith on the final night of hearings after the record was closed on public comments.
Opponents of the project say this last-minute maneuver didn’t give anyone time to question the letter. They also noted that the letter wasn’t voted on by the entire FACT board.
The Commissioners approved the development in 2014 which is expected to bring in 1250 new homes on 392-acres in an area near Route 75 and 80.
RALE President Steve McKay said the process needs to start all over again with a clean record. “There is an ethics violation. The remedy in state law is that the judge shall send it back to the county, and the county has the discretion, not the judge, how to reconsider it. So that’s really before the judge,” he says.
RALE says the letter unfairly swayed the Commissioners to vote in favor of the project. The attorney for the developers, 75-80 Properties and Payne Investments, claim the letter had little impact on the Commissioners’ vote.
McKays says RALE is asking that the judge vacate the decision by the County Commissioners, and order that the process start all over again, thereby creating a clean record. “The only way to get a clean record is to do away with the prior approvals.
Judge Nicklas says he will issue a decision on the matter within 30-days of Tuesday’s hearing. He had previously ordered the case be returned to the County Council for their consideration. That panel couldn’t come up with a decision, claiming the developer was uncooperative so it was sent back to Judge Nicklas.
McKay says fighting this massive development has been a challenge. “We’re the underdog fighting against both the county and the developer. And that’s a very daunting thing. It’s hard. It’s really challenging, and you know your chances of success are really tough,” he says.
But McKay says he’s confident “I feel pretty good; I really do,” he said. “I think the issues where they’re at right now are fairly clear in the law.”
By Kevin McManus