KATHLEEN B. BOOMER, ET AL.
WATERMAN FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, ET AL.
Berger, Shaw Geter, Eyler, James R., (Senior Judge, Specially
Assigned) JJ. [*]
James R., J.
issue on this appeal is whether the Board of County
Commissioners of Queen Anne's County ("the County
Commissioners") had the authority to rescind a
previously adopted ordinance in which they had approved the
rezoning of a parcel of land that had been annexed and
rezoned by the Town of Queenstown. We answer that question in
November 25, 2014, by a vote of three to two, the County
Commissioners adopted Resolution 14-31, which approved
Queenstown's new zoning classification for the annexed
parcel that allowed land uses substantially different, or at
a substantially higher density, from what previously had been
allowed. On December 2, 2014, four County Commissioners,
elected at the 2014 general election, were sworn into office.
On December 9, 2014, by a vote of four to one, the County
Commissioners adopted Resolution 14-33, which withdrew,
rescinded, voided, and nullified Resolution 14-31.
response to the adoption of Resolution 14-33, the Town
Commissioners of Queenstown ("the Town
Commissioners") and the Waterman Family Limited
Partnership ("Waterman"), the owner of the subject
property, filed, in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's
County, a petition for judicial review and request for a writ
of administrative mandamus. Waterman also filed a declaratory
judgment action in the same court against the County
Commissioners. In both cases, the Town Commissioners and
Waterman alleged that the County Commissioners lacked
authority to rescind Resolution 14-31. The two cases were
consolidated. Kathleen Boomer, Marie McNurlan, Paul A.
McNurlan, Stacy L. Swartwood, and the Queen Anne's
Conservation Association ("QACA") intervened as
interested parties, all of whom were aligned with the County
a hearing on July 21, 2015, the circuit court entered summary
judgment in favor of Waterman and the Town Commissioners and
declared Resolution 14-33 "null, void and of no legal
force and effect" on the ground that the County
Commissioners lacked the "authority to repeal or rescind
[Resolution] 14-31." In addition, the court granted the
relief requested in the petition for judicial review and the
request for a writ of administrative mandamus filed by the
Town Commissioners and Waterman. The County Commissioners and
the interested parties filed motions for reconsideration. On
September 30, 2015, the court denied the motions. This timely
appeal followed. Subsequently, the County Commissioners
voluntarily withdrew from the appeal. As a result, the
parties before us are the interested parties, whom we shall
refer to collectively as "the QACA appellants, "
and the Town Commissioners and Waterman, appellees.
sole issue presented by the QACA appellants for our
consideration is whether the County Commissioners had the
authority to rescind or repeal Resolution 14-31. For the
reasons set forth below, we hold that the County
Commissioners did have that authority, and as a result, we
shall reverse the judgments of the circuit court.
basic facts are not in dispute. Waterman is the owner of
approximately 140 acres of land in Queen Anne's County,
commonly referred to as the Wheatlands Farm property, located
immediately south of U.S. Route 50 and across from a
commercial development known as the Queenstown Outlets. Prior
to the events that are the subject of this appeal, the
property was zoned Countryside, a designation that permitted
agricultural and low density uses. On June 25, 2014, Waterman
filed a petition with the Town of Queenstown seeking to have
the Wheatlands Farm property annexed into the town. The goal,
after annexation, was to seek rezoning. After a public
hearing, the Town Commissioners voted to annex the property.
Thereafter, the Town Commissioners adopted an ordinance
rezoning the Wheatlands Farm property from Countryside to
Planned Regional Commercial, which permitted commercial and
high density uses. The effective date of that ordinance was
dependent upon a waiver by the County Commissioners of the
existing zoning density pursuant to Md. Code (2013 Repl.
Vol., 2014 Supp.), §4-416(b) of the Local Government
Article ("LG"). The statute provided that the property
could not be rezoned to permit development for uses
substantially different from previously authorized uses or
uses at a substantially higher density, for a period of five
years, unless the County Commissioners granted express
approval and waived the five-year period.
public hearing, on November 25, 2014, the County
Commissioners passed Resolution 14-31, which granted the
express approval needed to allow for rezoning to a
classification that was substantially different and at a
higher density. The approval of Resolution 14-31 allowed
development consistent with the "Planned Regional
Commercial" classification without having to wait the
five-year period referred to in LG §4-416.
December 2, 2014, the newly elected commissioners took
office. On December 9, 2014, the County Commissioners adopted
Resolution 14-33, which rescinded the express approval that
previously had been granted. In response to that action,
Waterman and the Town Commissioners filed the court actions
the circuit court concluded that the County Commissioners
"had no authority to repeal and rescind Resolution
14-31." On July 21, 2015, the court granted summary
judgment in favor of Waterman and the Town Commissioners, and
granted the relief requested in the petition for judicial
review and writ of administrative mandamus. It also issued a
declaratory judgment providing that "Resolution 14-33
adopted by the County Commissioners of Queen Anne's
County on December 9, 2014, . . . hereby is declared to be
null, void and of no legal force and effect."
the court denied motions for reconsideration, the County
Commissioners and the QACA appellants noted appeals to this
Court. Subsequently, the ...