Posted by: Patricia Salkin | January 23, 2017

Fed. Dist. Court in MD Finds no Due Process Violation in City’s Issuance of Stop Work Order

Plaintiffs, Rockville Cars, LLC, sold new and used BMW automobiles, and acquired their lease of the Property for the purpose of developing a show room. The property had previously been used as a restaurant and small furniture retail store. In order to develop the show room, Plaintiffs submitted: a “Site Plan Application” to the City of Rockville’s Department of Community Planning and Development Services, in order to change the commercial use of the building on the property from “split retail / restaurant” to “automotive sales / retail” and a Building Permit Application to the City of Rockville Inspection Services Division in order to commence construction on the new building. In this case, Plaintiffs sued the City of Rockville, Maryland and Robert L. Purkey Jr. in his personal capacity, contending that Defendants deprived them of their procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by issuing a “Suspension of Building Permit—Stop Work Order,” halting Plaintiffs’ construction of a new BMW show room. In the Suspension Letter, Purkey, acting Chief of Inspection Services for Defendant City of Rockville, stated that Property owner Robin Tang had advised the City that Plaintiffs did not have authority to submit the Building Permit Application.

Here, the Building Permit Application misrepresented that Priority 1 Automotive, rather than Robin Tang, was the owner of the Property. The court also found that Plaintiffs’ failure to disclose the demolition it intended to do was without question a material omission that could have substantially altered the City Planner’s assessment of the Site Plan Application. Due to the misrepresentations in the Site Plan Application and the Building Permit Application, Plaintiffs never obtained a lawful building permit, and thus never acquired a vested right. However, even assuming Plaintiffs had a vested property interest in the approved Building Permit, the court found Defendants did not deprive them of that interest as the suspension of the Building Permit was not a “de facto termination” of the Permit.

The court further held that due process was afforded whether or not the July 18, 2013 meeting was considered a pre-deprivation hearing or merely an impromptu discussion. Here, post-deprivation process was always available to Plaintiffs through the constitutionally sufficient administrative appeal process provided by the Rockville City Code. Accordingly, Plaintiffs Due Process claims were dismissed.

Rockville Cars, LLC v. City of Rockville, Maryland, 2017 WL 57215 (D. MD 1/4/017)


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