A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday aimed at overturning 15 years of Howard County land-use decisions, claiming that the issue is one for state courts, not federal.
The 124-page suit filed in February by a group of development critics charged that county officials illegally made land-use decisions by County Council resolution, denying citizens their constitutional right to petition them to referendum, which is allowed only for council bills. The principal plaintiffs - Susan B. Gray, Frank Martin and Paul F. Kendall - said the county has violated the charter for years. They have particularly criticized plans to develop hundreds of new homes at Turf Valley, an 800-acre golf and hotel complex in western Ellicott City, and are allies of other plaintiffs trying to block a Wegmans supermarket from being built in Columbia. Work on both projects is under way despite the lawsuits.