In a remarkable victory for our ecosystem and governmental transparency, Judge Pearson in the Prince George’s County Circuit Court has thrown out two site-specific zoning text amendments (gifts to specific developers) in a delayed ruling on a case brought in July 2019 by AMP Creeks Council, Patuxent Riverkeeper, and several individuals.
At issue were two bills passed (CB-88-2018 and CB-89-2018) that are the result of the County/District Council abusing its power to pass text amendments, and would have allowed 60′ mounds of trash to be constructed. From the decision: “[T]his Court is readily convinced that the actions taken by the District Council were tantamount to direct and intentional site-specific zoning maneuvers.” The judge remanded the case back to the District Council for further consideration. Fortunately, it is a very different Council than the one that passed this mess, and we have high hopes that these site-specific text amendments will be properly disposed of.
If a text amendment is used legally, it applies uniformly throughout the county. As used in these cases (and many, many others), they were used to give gifts to specific developers. CB-88 was for Mark Vogel of Robindale (the golf course turned sand and gravel mine). CB-89 was for David Berg of the Berg Corporation. The property it applies to is referred to as Neale Drive. Robindale and Neale Drive are within two miles of each other, separated by the Aggregate Industries wash plant on Accokeek & McKendree Rds.
The text amendments would have allowed a new version of a class 3 fill (think demolished construction materials, clay, rocks, etc.) with rock crushers to be constructed on each site. The new use (that strips away all protections that normal class 3 fills have) would apply only to these two properties, and would generate constant noise, dust, and heavy haul truck traffic with almost no oversight for the next ten years. In the case of Neale Drive, it could result in a 60 foot mound. You can thank Mel Franklin for sponsoring these monsters.
It is our hope that this ruling will help stop site-specific zoning text amendment abuse once and for all. They have long been used illegally all over the county, bringing inappropriate development to areas not zoned for it without providing any community notification or opportunities for public input.
This victory would not have been possible without your support. Thank you for all that you do to protect the natural environment and fair governance. A very special thank you as well to our unsinkable legal team who has been representing us in these cases, and in many cases winning them, for quite a long time.
AMP Creeks began fighting site-specific text amendments in 2005. This victory has special significance for us because one of the properties in question was the subject of one of our earliest fights that eventually became part of one of our biggest wins when the 2009 Subregion V and VI Master Plans were thrown out over ethics violations.