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Frederick County zoning plan upheld by Md. appeals court

The Courts of Appeal building in Annapolis. (The Daily Record File)

The Courts of Appeal building in Annapolis. (The Daily Record File)

Frederick County’s 2012 comprehensive zoning map and comprehensive zoning plan have been upheld by the Court of Special Appeals.

The intermediate appeals court affirmed a circuit court ruling that had dismissed the complaint filed by the Friends of Frederick County and other parties claiming that the county rezoning had been piecemeal, illegal and had failed to follow required procedures.

The plaintiffs also contended that the 2012 rezoning had been driven largely by complaints from property owners angered after their holdings had been “downzoned” – changed from intensive to less-intensive zoning designations – in 2010.

The zoning debate had been a political firestorm in Frederick County, and opponents seized heavily on comments by Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young that the 2010 zoning act had “robbed” property owners of their rights.

But the Court of Special Appeals agreed with the circuit court, ruling that the plaintiffs “at best identified procedural irregularities that occurred during the process of the Board’s development and enactment of the 2012 Map and Plan. We consider these irregularities to be matters of form rather than substance, and they do not amount to ‘clear and affirmative evidence’ that the Plan and Map are invalid.”

The appeals court also noted that whatever Young’s and other board members’ motivations were in conducting the process of creating a new comprehensive zoning map and comprehensive zoning plan were irrelevant.

The case is Friends of Frederick County et al. v. County of Frederick, Maryland, No. 2159, Sept. Term, 2013.