WILLOW GROVE CITIZENS ASSOCIATION, et al.
COUNTY COUNCIL OF PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
Court for Prince George's County Case No. CAL16-07496
Berger, Beachley, Kenney, James A., III (Senior Judge,
Specially Assigned), JJ.
case is an appeal from a judgment entered on judicial review
of a zoning decision in Prince George's County. Appellees
Presidential Care, LLC ("Presidential") and
Stoddard Baptist Home, Inc. ("Stoddard") applied
for a special exception with the Prince George's County
Office of Zoning. Upon the recommendation of the Zoning
Hearing Examiner ("Examiner"), the Prince
George's County Council ("County Council"),
sitting as the District Council, voted to approve the special
exception. Various persons of record filed a petition for
judicial review in the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, which affirmed. Willow Grove Citizens Association,
Inc. and other persons of record (collectively, "Willow
Grove") subsequently appealed the judgment of the
appeal, Willow Grove presents five questions for our review,
which we have rephrased and consolidated as follows:
Whether the County Council's decision to grant the
application for the special exception was legally correct in
light of the fact that
a. Presidential had, at the time of filing, forfeited its
right to do business in Maryland;
b. Stoddard was, at the time of filing, an unregistered
c. People's Zoning Counsel did not recuse himself despite
his involvement in the sale of the subject property to
reasons explained herein, we shall affirm the judgment of the
land at the heart of this dispute is a 7.91 acre property
located at 3911 Lottsford Vista Road in Bowie, Maryland
("the Property"). Under the Largo-Lottsford Master
Plan and Sectional Map Amendment (Zoning Ordinance No.
3-2016), the Property is zoned Rural Residential. The prior
owner, William Youngblood ("Youngblood"), obtained
a special exception pursuant to Zoning Ordinance 7-2001 to
build a 160-person child day care center, a 40-person adult
day care center, and a 72-person congregate living facility.
These zoning entitlements were never developed. On August 27,
2001, Youngblood sold the Property to Presidential, a limited
liability company organized in Maryland in 2001.
Youngblood's attorney at the time of the sale was Stan
Brown ("Brown"). Brown conducted the settlement and
was engaged in some of the contract work associated with the
November 1, 2012, Presidential's right to do business in
Maryland and use its name was forfeited. Presidential's
rights remained forfeited as of February 21, 2014, when it
applied for a special exception to operate a 15-person adult
day care facility and a 63-unit assisted living facility. The
application was accepted by the Maryland National Capital
Park and Planning Commission. The applicant was listed as
"Presidential Care, LLC, by Stoddard Baptist Home, Inc.,
Managing Member." Stoddard, a foreign corporation
organized in the District of Columbia, is the sole member of
Presidential. At the time of filing, Stoddard was not
registered to do business in Maryland.
Examiner conducted a public hearing to consider the
application for a special exception. Brown participated in
this hearing as People's Zoning Counsel. Brown disclosed
his prior involvement in the sale of the Property and asked,
on the record, whether anyone present objected to his
participation in the proceedings. There were no objections.
The Examiner approved the application for a special exception
on October 15, 2014.
Examiner's decision was appealed to the County
Council. After hearing oral arguments, the County
Council remanded the matter for the Examiner to determine
whether Presidential and Stoddard were in good standing with
the State Department of Assessments and Taxation
4, 2015, Presidential's rights were reinstated. On June
2, 2015, Stoddard registered with SDAT and became qualified
as a corporation in Maryland. The Examiner conducted a second
public hearing on the application for a special exception in
June of 2015. At the second hearing, Presidential and
Stoddard provided certificates of good standing from SDAT.
Thereafter, the Examiner conditionally recommended approval
of the application for a special exception.
Grove and other persons of record appealed to the County
Council. After hearing oral arguments, the County Council
found that "Presidential was legally authorized to
engage in the activity of filing an application for
a special exception concerning real or personal property,
" and that Presidential's forfeiture did not impair
the validity of its application. The County Council also
found that Stoddard, in applying for a special exception, was
not doing business in Maryland. As a result, the County
Council approved the ...