Opponents of the massive Waverly Woods II development are again crying foul over county zoning procedures -- this time over the $10,000 cost of hearing transcripts needed for two pending court appeals.
Residents of the Marriottsville and Woodstock areas near the 682-acre development filed two lawsuits May 3 appealing the March 22 Zoning Board decision that changed rural, one-home-per-three-acres zoning to a mix of commercial and more dense residential zoning.
To appeal, they must have 16 hearings transcribed, a job that the Zoning Board's administrative assistant, Robin Regner, estimates will cost $10,000 at $4.50 a page.
But that is too much, opponents say.
"We have someone that can do the transcripts at a fraction of the cost that the county's going to charge us," said Jean Quattlebaum, president of Citizens Allied for Rational Expansion (CARE). "The estimate that we got from the county was about $10,000 and we were looking at about $3,000 and a heck of a lot less time. Robin said about four months and we could do it in about 30 days."
Paul T. Johnson, the county's deputy solicitor, originally agreed to let opponents get their own transcripts done. "Initially, I thought that might be possible, but the more I looked into it, the more I thought that it would create potential problems," Mr. Johnson said.
Now that the county intends to strictly follow the Zoning Board's rules regarding transcripts, the opponents plan to file a motion in county Circuit Court today asking the court to make the county pay for the transcripts, Ms. Quattlebaum said yesterday.
The opponents' attorney, Thomas McCarthy Jr. of Annapolis, said the Zoning Board's rules of procedure exceed the board's authority in requiring appellants to pay for transcripts. Authority to levy such charges comes from the County Code, which doesn't provide any specifics on the issue, Mr. McCarthy said.
Wrangling over transcripts may be pointless, however. Mr. Johnson said that once County Council members, sitting as the Zoning Board, complete comprehensive rezoning of the eastern county, the Waverly Woods II rezoning will be moot.
The same changes made in the individual rezoning case, which is based on the legal principle of mistake in zoning or change in the character of the neighborhood, will very likely be made in the comprehensive rezoning as a matter of policy. The comprehensive process is not expected to be completed until late summer.
Mr. McCarthy said his clients have not decided whether they will challenge comprehensive rezoning.
The Zoning Board voted Jan. 28 to approve Waverly Woods II, butcut 41 percent of the project's proposed 1.7 million square feet of office space.
The project would instead have 1 million square feet of office or other commercial space on 372 acres, a village shopping center on 8.5 acres, up to 300 condominiums and apartments on 42.6 acres, up to 503 townhouses on 107.6 acres and up to 215 detached houses on 69.8 acres.