Case Note: Court Says DRC Decision On Development Plan Not Appealable
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals recently ruled that the Baltimore County Board of Appeals does not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal of a decision made by the Director of the Department of Permits and Developmental Management exempting a developer from review under the current development regulations and authorizing that developer to proceed with its proposal under the old CRG regulations.
In the unreported decision of Meadows of Greenspring Home Owners Association, Inc., et al. v. Foxleigh Enterprises, Inc., the appellate court affirmed the decision of the Circuit Court and noted that Baltimore County Code Section 26-211 states “any material amendment to an approved plan shall be reviewed and approved in the same manner as the original plan…”
It was undisputed that the developer had an approved CRG plan dated April 28, 1983. The Court made clear that the development regulations unambiguously state that there is no discretion involved in deciding what review process is applicable. “A previously approved plan by the CRG must be reviewed by the CRG process…”
The court reasoned that the letter from the director of PADM, reporting on the action of the Development Review Committee, (the “DRC”) did not make any decision and was not an order. It did not issue or modify any license, permit or approval. As such, the letter merely served to inform the developer that the proposed plan was a material change from the previously approved plan (versus a refinement) and that, in order to be reviewed, new plans must be submitted for consideration of the CRG.
Significantly, this appeal was originally dismissed by the Board of Appeals on the conclusion that it was not ripe. The court repeats that conclusion and notes that the protestants have not been left without a remedy. Observing that the developer in this instance did ultimately submit an amended CRG plan for review and upon receiving approval, appeals were noted from that final action on a plan. While not commenting on that pending appeal, the inference can reasonably be drawn that such was the proper avenue of appeal and that any appeal from the DRC is premature and not right.
The appellate court’s decision in this case is limited to DRC consideration of CRG plans. The decision does not, on its face, respond to the question of whether other DRC action is appealable. Specifically, the Court has not ruled on DRC action on a hearing officer’s development plan?
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