The battle to raze the asphalt of a Baltimore County restaurant parking lot will continue after the Court of Special Appeals determined last week that a circuit court injunction requiring the county to remove the pavement was not specific about the condition the lot must be left in and who foots the bill.
The current litigation began in 2010 when the Falls Road Community Association sued the Oregon Grille and the county, arguing the restaurant’s paved lot at a corner of Oregon Ridge Park violates county zoning laws and a restrictive covenant agreed to by the restaurant in 1995.
The covenant required the lot to be surfaced with crushed stone or a similar material “unless otherwise required by law,” according to the Court of Special Appeals opinion. In 2006, the gravel paving in the lot was replaced by asphalt at the direction of the county, citing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge found the pavement violated the administrative order governing the type of surface to be used in the lot but concluded a declaratory judgment to that effect would not resolve the controversy and injunctive relief was not proper.
The Court of Appeals ultimately reversed that finding in 2014, sending the case back to the circuit court. There, a judge issued an injunction ordering the county to “remove the paved parking lot from its property at the Oregon Grille no later than July 1, 2016.”
Oregon LLC, the operator of the Oregon Grille, requested the judgment be altered or amended to address whether Baltimore County would bear the ultimate cost of removing the pavement and what condition the parking lot must be left in. The circuit court judge declared the issues “not ripe for adjudication” because removal of the pavement had not begun.
The Court of Special Appeals last week disagreed, remanding the case to the trial court and vacating the injunction because it provided “inadequate detail on the parties’ respective responsibilities for returning the parking lot to a usable condition after the pavement is removed, or which parties are fiscally responsible for the removal and replacement of the parking surface.”
The unanimous appellate panel also found Oregon’s concerns were not mere speculation and the “ripening seeds of a controversy” existed. The injunction gave the county “free rein to leave behind anything from a fully-functional gravel parking lot to a deeply-rutted, impassible slough,” Judge Christopher B. Kehoe wrote for the court in an unreported opinion.
Paul Mark Sandler, Oregon LLC’s lawyer, declined to comment Tuesday because of the impending hearing. Sandler is with Shapiro, Sher, Guinot & Sandler P.A.
Michael R. McCann, a Towson solo practitioner representing the community association, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.
The appellate case is Oregon LLC v. Falls Road Community Association, No. 1234, Sept. 2014.