Lawsuit to stop city annexation dismissed Judge says neighbor waited too long to file

February 28, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

A Circuit Court judge yesterday dismissed a suit to block Annapolis' annexation of 12.8 acres of land near Bembe Beach Road for a proposed six-story seniors complex.

Judge Eugene M. Lerner said Casey Cummings, whose home borders the proposed complex, waited too long to file the suit. The annexation was final in January 1996, but Cummings did not sue until 10 months later.

The ruling was a major defeat for Bembe Beach residents in their yearlong fight to prevent Mericare Associated Limited Partnership from building a complex that would overlook the Chesapeake Bay and include a garage, tennis court, croquet field, library and restaurant.

"We were disappointed, but we were not surprised by the ruling," said Cummings. "The city has continually moved forward on illegal annexations, and the county has done nothing to stop them. We may appeal the decision."

The suit argued that Annapolis' annexation of the Mericare property illegally made Bembe Beach an island of county land surrounded on three sides by the city and on one side by water.

The annexation would "impermissibly create an unincorporated enclave on Bayfront Drive," according to the suit.

"We're really disappointed in that the merits of the case won't be heard," said Thomas J. Wohlgemuth, attorney for the plaintiff.

City attorney Paul G. Goetzke said yesterday that Cummings had "no standing to bring the suit because he was not harmed by the annexation."

Goetzke also said the city had already levied taxes on the property, collected the taxes and spent them.

Mericare officials said that they had spent $1.1 million on survey, engineering, demolition, construction and legal fees.

"The court basically agreed that it was an unreasonable delay," Goetzke said of the suit.

The debate has gone on since last year, when the city annexed the property, then approved a request to change the area's zoning to allow the complex. In May, the city council unanimously granted Mericare's application to begin building.

The 202-unit complex would have 142 independent living units for seniors who are able to take care of themselves. It would also include 30 assisted-living units for those unable to function alone and 30 nursing care units for those needing full-time support services.

Bembe Beach residents say the project would have a detrimental impact on woodland, roads and utilities.

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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