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Dugan v. Prince George's County

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 27, 2014

MICHAEL F. DUGAN, ET AL.
v.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND ET AL

Page 897

Matricciani, Kehoe, Berger, JJ.

OPINION

Page 898

[216 Md.App. 653] Matricciani, J.

This appeal centers around two resolutions approved by the Prince George's County Council (" the Council" ). Both resolutions involve an application made by Reaching Hearts International (" RHI" ) on August 13, 2010[1] for a water and sewer amendment for development of property at 6100 Brooklyn Bridge Rd. in Laurel, Maryland. RHI's application was partially approved by the Council on September 13, 2011, and the remainder of the application was approved on January 24, 2012. The Maryland Department of the Environment

Page 899

(" MDE" ) approved the amendments on August 17, 2012.

Appellants, who are homeowners bordering the property in question, timely filed several appeals. The appeals include the following: three petitions for judicial review (for the Council's first resolution (case CAL 11-25989), for the Council's second resolution, and in the alternative, a writ of administrative mandamus (case CAL 12-03856), and for MDE's approval (case CAL 12-27009)); and two declaratory judgments and petitions for writ of mandamus (for the Council's first and second resolution (case CAL 11-36987) and for MDE's approval (case CAL 12-29029)).

[216 Md.App. 654] In June 2012, the court granted the appellees' motion to dismiss a declaratory judgment action for the Council's resolutions (CAL 11-36987) on the grounds that the resolutions were quasi-judicial.[2] Appellants appealed this dismissal. The court then consolidated all of the remaining cases on the issue, and upheld the Council's resolutions and MDE's approval. Appellants timely appealed to this court on all of the judgments, except the petition for judicial review of the MDE decision.[3]

Questions Presented

Appellants present several questions for our review, which we rephrase and combine below:

I. Whether the circuit court erred when it found that the Council's amendments to the water and sewer plan for RHI's land were quasi-judicial (CAL 11-36987)?

a. If quasi-judicial, whether the Council's resolutions fail to articulate the basis of the Council's decision at a level sufficient for judicial review of the legality of the decisions (CAL 12-03856)?

b. If quasi-judicial, whether the administrative record fails to include substantial evidence supporting the Council's resolutions to amend the water and sewer plan (CAL 12-03856)?

c. If quasi-judicial, whether the Council lacked legal authority to consider RHI's application for a water and sewer amendment because Prince George's County failed to first certify that the proposed amendment conformed to its 2008[4] General Plan (CAL 12-03856)?

[216 Md.App. 655] II. Whether the MDE acted outside its legal boundaries when it approved the Council's amendments to the water and sewer plan for RHI's land (CAL 12-29029)?

For the reasons that follow, we answer no to all of the questions and affirm.

Factual and Procedural History

There has been a lengthy litigation history associated with this case. Although a $3.7 million jury verdict[5] is generally strong enough to put an issue to rest, appellants remain undeterred; they continue to litigate this case to prevent RHI from developing land under the false pretext

Page 900

of environmentalism. Perhaps, this decision will finally allow ...


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