Posted by: Patricia Salkin | January 1, 2014

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Upholds County Planning Board’s Resubdivision of Lots Pursuant to County Board’s Delineation of the “Existing Neighborhood”

Tamara Corporation submitted to the Montgomery Planning Board a plan for resubdivision of a lot located on Gainsborough Road between Seven Locks Road and Fontaine Street in Montgomery County. In this plan, Tamara sought approval for the resubdivision of the undeveloped Lot 17, Block B of the Willerburn Acres Subdivision, containing 1.01 acres, into two lots of roughly equal size, known as “Lot 60” and “Lot 61,” in order to build two separate single-family houses. The Board approved the plan, and the appellants sent a letter which voiced their disapproval of the Board’s decision and the letter included supplemental materials from other resubdivision plans considered previously by the Board. The Board denied appellants’ petition and issued a final Resolution, in which the Board stated in writing its approval of the Plan and explained the reasoning for its decision. The Board stated it acted in accordance with Section 50–29(b)(2) of the [Montgomery] County Code, the proposed lots are of the same character as to street frontage, alignment, size, shape, width, area and suitability for residential use as to other lots within the existing neighborhood. The design of lots in a resubdivision is governed by MCC § 50–29(b)(2), which states: “lots…shall be of the same character as to street frontage, alignment, size, shape, width, area and suitability for residential use as other lots within the existing block, neighborhood or subdivision.” The circuit court denied appellants’ motion to review and affirmed the Board’s approval of the Plan.

The Court of Appeals held that the Board’s interpretation of “existing neighborhood” must be reasonable because, in determining the “existing neighborhood,” the Board considers abutting properties, the access points to and from the proposed lots, and the consistency of the zoning within the defined boundary. Therefore the court found the Board did not err, as a matter of law, in adopting this standard here. Furthermore, there was substantial evidence to support the Board’s findings that the proposed lots fit within the range of the size, width, frontage, and area of all the lots in the existing neighborhood. Accordingly, the court upheld the Board’s decision and affirmed the judgment of the circuit court.

Arking v. Montgomery County Plan. Bd., 2013 WL 6096836 (Md. Spec. App. 11/20/2013)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.mdcourts.gov/opinions/cosa/2013/2346s11.pdf


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