Howard land-use suit dismissed

Federal judge says lawsuit is repeat of one on appeal

November 22, 2009|By Larry Carson

A federal judge dismissed Thursday a second lawsuit against Howard County government and current and former county officials, which alleged improper decisions on land use in approving sites for two supermarkets - the Wegmans in Columbia and a Harris Teeter planned at Turf Valley.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz agreed with county lawyers that the lawsuit, filed by Frank Martin, Carvel Mays, Phillip Rousseau and Paul F. Kendall, was basically a repeat of one he dismissed in July that is now on appeal.

He wrote in a three-page opinion that Mays lacks standing to sue, and that Kendall, Martin and Rousseau are ineligible to bring the lawsuit because it is "duplicative" of their first suit. In that ruling, Motz said the group's claims should be taken to a state court, not federal court.

The group, represented by attorney Susan B. Gray, claims that 15 years of county land use decisions are illegal because they were in the form of County Council resolutions, which voters cannot petition to referendum and therefore are unconstitutional.

Martin said he would have no comment until he studies the ruling.

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