Another CLA WIN!
The Anne Arundel Patapsco River Alliance and CLA volunteer attorney Russ Stevenson defeated an application for rezoning of Open Space (OS) to Residential (R1 and R2) that would have allowed construction of protected land adjacent to Stoney Run, a sensitive tributary of the Patapsco River. Also supporting this effort was the Severn Crest Homeowners Association represented by attorney Ann Fligsten.
The Office of Administrative Hearings for Anne Arundel County heard oral arguments on September 20 and the decision denying the application for rezoning was issued October 20. A special exception was granted that would allow the Villas at Severn Crest, LLC to construct an assisted living facility along with independent living units on a portion of the approximately 20 acre parcel, but any construction must be consistent with applicable zoning and other rules and regulations.
The applicant argued that his rezoning application should be granted due to an alleged mistake in mapping with respect to the existing OS zoning of the subject property since the floodplain limits of the property did not match the most recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps as well as a detailed floodplain study undertaken by the applicant.
The Administrative Hearing Officer (AHO) disagreed. He found that a mistake in designating the floodlplain had not been proven and that there was insufficient evidence presented to justify adopting the applicant’s proposal to rezone.
The AHO cited the reluctance of his Office to engage in piecemeal rezoning of property when that is normally the function of the County Council. He also cited the mysteriousness of the method by which the proposed relocation of the zoning demarcation line was calculated.
From the opinion:
“This Office treads lightly when it comes to rezonings because it is so difficult to determine, in most cases, what the County Council would have done had they been made aware of the “mistake” claimed by the applicant in a particular case.Here, the “mistake,” the applicant contends, is the incorrect location of where the floodplain is currently located. The logic of accepting this position would be that zoning lines should be adjusted by this Office every time someone discovers that the outline of a floodplain has changed. Such an event could be caused by a heavy rain, which is surely not what was intended when the Council granted this Office the power to rezone property. 7 See also, Case No. 2007-0420-R, In Re: Regency Land Associates, LLC (March 13,”