Sometimes I am tempted to go off into the woods and buy a small piece of property.To live there quietly, observing.Sort of my own Walden's Pond.
Only the fear of my very human nature allowing civilization to follow keeps me from taking such a step.It is better to live in the urban confines than defile one more rural space.
Are there no others that feel the same? Must we continue to put developement where it does not belong.
"For a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone." Thoreau
April 6, 2007
CUMBERLAND — In a victory for the developers of the proposed Terrapin Run housing development, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Friday upheld a decision by the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals to grant the proposal a special exception.
In a 21-page opinion, Judge James Eyler ordered the case remanded back to the Allegany County Circuit Court with instructions to affirm the board’s original resolution to allow construction in the conservation and agriculturally zoned land adjacent to Green Ridge State Forest.
Eyler said the court found “no error in the board’s decision” that the proposed 4,300-unit planned, residential development was in harmony with the county’s comprehensive plan.
“We are very gratified the Court of Special Appeals accepted our argument and affirmed the county Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision,” Attorney Bob Paye, representing the project’s developers, PDC Inc., said. “I think the decision vindicates the hard work of the (board and Planning and Zoning Commission). They did a very thorough, conscientious job hearing all the arguments and deciding the issues.”
The board’s decision to grant Terrapin Run a special exception was appealed in September 2005 by a group of local citizens, who challenged the standard of “in harmony” the board used. Circuit Court Judge Gary Leasure agreed and remanded the case back to the board in May 2006, directing the board to consider whether the proposal was “consistent with” the comprehensive plan, which he considered to be a more rigid standard.
The citizens’ group, however, believed the standard should have been set to “in conformance with” and petitioned Leasure’s decision to the Court of Special Appeals one month later.
In his opinion, Eyler wrote that the court believes the county’s comprehensive plan serves only as a guide and that the issues regarding standards are a matter of semantics.
“Whether we describe the board’s analysis as examining whether the special exception use is in harmony with, consistent with or in conformity with the plan, the terms differ only semantically,” he wrote. “In the present case, each term connotes only a general compatibility with the purpose and intent of the plan, as opposed to a strict adherence to the plan.”
The Court of Special Appeals also upheld the board’s decision to approve a proposed shopping center in the development, as well as a waste water treatment plant. The circuit court did not rule on these issues.
“Approval of the proposed commercial/retail area as an accessory use was within the board’s discretion,” the opinion read. “The inclusion of a waste water plant in a planned community is not uncommon and was within the contemplation of the legislative body in deciding that planned, residential developments are permitted by special exception.”
Dale Sams, representing the group of citizens who filed the appeal under Hagerstown Attorney William Wantz, said Friday afternoon he had not yet reviewed the opinion“As far as any next steps ... I would suspect we’d have to consider what would be appropriate,” he said. “This may be a decision some state agencies, particularly the Maryland Department of Planning, might want to take note of.”
Wantz did not respond to a request for comments Friday.
Craig Leonard, project manager of the Terrapin Run development, said he and PDC Inc. Principal Michael Carnock are progressing with their engineering plans, even as the status of further litigation is unknown. “We’re hopeful this is the last decision,” he said.
The Cumberland Times-News reported on the expert testimony of Mark W. Eisner, P.G., President of Advanced Land and Water, Inc. Mr. Eisner has testified the preceding evening, before the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals, on a proposed subdivision called Terrapin Run.
The Sun-Times reported that the "...hearing began with continuing testimony from Mark Eisner, President of Advanced Land and Water, Inc., who explained that using the Maryland Department of the Environment’s process for determining the availability of groundwater, the 935-acre Terrapin Run development could sustain the building of more than 1,400 homes over the next 12 years (a timeframe set by MDE.
"Using an MDE-determined figure of 300 gallons of available groundwater per acre per day, which takes drought conditions into consideration, the acreage on which homes could be built would yield about 350,000 gallons per day. But Eisner noted that at full build-out, Terrapin Run homes would require at least 750,000 gallons per day.
The 1,400 homes that would be built in 12 years are estimated to require approximately 244,000 gallons of water per day, well within the 350,000 gpd limit set by MDE. But if 4,300 homes are to be built on the property over 20 years, -- more water would be needed to serve the entire community. He said that MDE would not issue [groundwater appropriation] permits to build more houses than the groundwater could support."
"...’This is one of the best areas in Allegany County [for a project of the nature of Terrapin Run]’, said Eisner. ‘One reason is the property’s bowl-shaped drainage pattern, and the state-owned forest land to the south and east would have less other wells to be potentially adversely impacted by the development.’ These were favorable characteristics."
Based in part on Mr. Eisner’s testimony, ultimately the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals approved Terrapin Run. The Board’s official findings are attached. Accurate, effective and compelling expert testimony is a core ALWI professional service.
Another setback for Terrapin Run...