Woodies dealt new blow in mall fight Judge says appeal lacks standing ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY--Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

March 03, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

For the second time in two weeks, a judge has dealt a blow to Woodward & Lothrop Inc. in the retailer's fight against Annapolis Mall's plans to add a Nordstrom and 50 smaller stores.

Woodies officials, still reviewing a ruling yesterday from Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams, could not say whether or not they would continue a battle that has been marked by unsuccessful county, state and federal appeals.

In his written decision, Judge Williams found that Woodies, which has a store a half-mile from the mall in Parole, lacks standing to appeal Anne Arundel County's approval of the expansion.

Woodies "generally alleges that the approval of the formal development plan for the Annapolis Mall will have a damaging effect upon the environment and traffic flow surrounding the mall and Parole areas," Judge Williams wrote.

"Nonetheless, Woodies' interest in the subject matter of this case is not alleged to be different from that of citizens generally in the vicinity surrounding the Annapolis Mall," he said.

To win the appeal, Woodies officials would have had to convince the judge they were specially aggrieved by the decision to allow the expansion.

The finding that Woodies has no special interest in mall development contradicted what has become the basis of Woodies' argument during a year of challenges.

"The expansion will affect Woodies in a manner that is different from the general public," Woodies' attorney John Britton said yesterday. "The traffic affects us specially because it will have the effect of detracting from our customer base and taking away customer sales and diminishing property values.

"This is not the same effect passers-by or residents of South County would feel," he said.

He could not say whether Woodies would appeal the ruling to the Court of Special Appeals.

Two weeks earlier, a federal judge had dismissed a suit in which Woodies charged Anne Arundel County officials with violating environmental laws and the 14th Amendment by issuing development permits to the mall.

In that case, Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled that the retailer can't stop the mall's plans by contending such an expansion would lower the property value of Woodies' store.

The law does not allow one property owner to prevent development of another person's land "merely because that use may adversely affect the market value of his own property," Judge Motz wrote.

Judge Williams' ruling affirmed a decision of the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals, which dismissed Woodies' challenge of development plans in July.

"We think this substantiates the fact that the state, the county and all the reviewing agencies have reviewed the project," said Tim Lowe, development director for the mall.

"There is no substance to Woodies' argument and Woodies' claims are without merit. We hope Woodies will stop their campaign against the mall."

Construction has begun on Nordstrom, the mall addition and renovations and a new food court, Mr. Lowe said.

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