Court approves Annapolis annexation Southwest subdivision drew county opposition

December 12, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Maryland's highest court has cleared the way for the development of 103 acres on the southwestern edge of Annapolis as an upscale subdivision of 200 homes.

The Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner's 1997 ruling that the city did not violate state law when it annexed the property owned by Chrisland Corp., even if it isolated a section of county land south of the parcel on the Annapolis Neck Peninsula.

LTC "We think the county presented an interesting issue for the court," said the city attorney, Paul G. Goetzke. "But we're pleased that our view of the law was found to be correct."

The county had contended that state law bars the annexation because it would create an island of county land off Bywater Road near Forest Drive.

Judge Dale R. Cathell wrote for the unanimous court in the ruling issued Thursday that the isolated peninsula "remains contiguous the remainder of Anne Arundel County" because it is bordered on three sides by county waterways.

"Anne Arundel County includes all of the waterways that surround the remainder of the Bywater Peninsula," he wrote.

Sarah M. Iliff, assistant county attorney, said she was disappointed that the court had interpreted "surrounded" to mean on all sides and had qualified waterways as county property.

"It's hard to get a court to go beyond the actual language of the statute," Iliff said. "We had an uphill battle, I guess."

Goetzke said the ruling is significant for other Maryland cities considering expansion.

"The law of annexation has been clarified, and it has been clarified to provide that so long as the unannexed area is bound on at least one side by county waters, the annexation is not illegal," he said.

Chrisland's lawyer, Jonathan A. Hodgson, said his client is pleased with the decision but that the court battle has been expensive for the company.

When Chrisland "first petitioned for annexation [in 1996], he did not anticipate that more than a year would be devoted to this litigation," Hodgson said.

"This delay was very costly, and the cost of litigation was very great," he said.

The appeals court also dismissed a suit by a group of Annapolis Neck residents challenging the zoning density on the land, ruling that the residents had not exhausted their administrative remedies before going to court.

Pub Date: 12/12/98

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