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Myers v. Board of Commissioners for Carroll County

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

February 27, 2019

DOUGLAS C. MYERS
v.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS FOR CARROLL COUNTY, ET AL.

          Circuit Court for Carroll County Case No. 06-C-17-073432

          Wright, Kehoe, Raker, Irma S., (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          Wright, J.

          This dispute arises out of a challenge to the location of the border between Baltimore County and Carroll County. On April 26, 2017, Douglas Myers, appellant, filed an action for declaratory relief in the Circuit Court for Carroll County against the appellees, Board of Commissioners for Carroll County, Maryland, and Baltimore County, Maryland. Myers specifically requested that the circuit court change the line between the counties from its current location to one that he alleged was consistent with the General Assembly's intent at the time Carroll County was created. In response, appellees filed a motion to dismiss Myers's claim. Upon determining that it did not have jurisdiction over Myers's claim, the circuit court granted appellees' motion to dismiss.

         Myers now challenges the circuit court's order and presents the following question for our review, which we have reworded and consolidated for clarity:[1]

1. Whether the circuit court erred in dismissing Myers's action for declaratory relief for lack of jurisdiction?

         For the reasons provided below, we answer this question in the negative and affirm the circuit court's judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         Myers's challenge to the location of the border between Carroll County and Baltimore County arose from his ownership of land located at the border.[2] This case represents the third time that Myers has pursued litigation against appellees regarding the proper location of the border.

         A. 2006 Lawsuit

         On December 16, 2002, Allender Property, LLC ("Allender"), [3] received a Concurrency Management Certificate ("CMC") from Carroll County. The CMC permitted Allender to build a residential community on the land at issue in the instant dispute. But on June 10, 2003, Carroll County adopted an ordinance suspending the approval of "all residential development plans which had not yet received formal approval from the Carroll County Planning Commission." Allender's development plan had not received approval from the County and was therefore suspended.

         About three years later, Allender filed a lawsuit against Carroll County in the Circuit Court for Carroll County. In its complaint, Allender alleged that it suffered financial injuries because of Carroll County's refusal to honor its CMC. On March 11, 2009, Allender and the Board of County Commissioners of Carroll County entered into a Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release to resolve the lawsuit. Therein, Allender agreed to "dismiss with prejudice all claims and controversies at issue in the litigation in exchange for payment in the amount of [$1 million], less amounts that [Myers and Allender] owed to the County."[4]

         B. 2007 Lawsuit

         In 2007, Allender filed a lawsuit against appellees in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. In its "Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, Injunctive Relief, and Writ of Survey," Allender sought "a declaration from [the circuit court] regarding the legal location of the political boundary . . . between Baltimore County and Carroll County . . . ."

         Allender alleged that the original boundary was established by the General Assembly in 1835 and was intended to be a straight line. See 1835 Md. Laws, Chapter 256; confirmed by 1836 Md. Laws, Chapter 19 (Jan. 19, 1937). Allender then pointed out that the General Assembly commissioned a survey to mark the boundary in 1840, see 1840 Md. Laws, Chapter 10 (Jan. 8, 1841), and that this survey was completed by Amon Richards in 1841. Allender argued that the results of Amon Richards's survey were "not accurate."[5] Though the land in dispute was being "regulated and taxed by Baltimore County," Allender asserted that the land should have been under the jurisdiction of Carroll County. Allender therefore requested that the circuit court "declare that . . . the correct, legal [b]oundary between Baltimore County and Carroll County is the line [established in] 1835[.]"

         The 2007 lawsuit concluded on August 24, 2007, when the parties agreed to file a voluntary dismissal of the complaint without prejudice. In response to Allender's contentions regarding Amon Richards's survey, appellees jointly prepared a "Retracement of the Survey enacted by the Maryland General Assembly in Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1840," ("Retracement Survey") in 2008. To conduct the Retracement Survey, "surveyors interpreted the General Assembly's intent and provided a conclusion regarding the boundary line." Appellees state that they have relied on the survey since its completion.

         C. The Instant Lawsuit

         The instant action began on April 26, 2017, when Myers, in his personal capacity, [6]filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief against appellees in the Circuit Court for Carroll County. Myers brought three counts against the appellees: Count I - Action for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief; Count II - Additional Action for Declaratory Relief; and Count III - Other Action Including Costs. As to Count I, Myers asserted that "[a]ll parties [were] bound by administrative collateral estoppel" to follow a decision on the boundary made by a Zoning Commissioner in Baltimore County. As to Count II, Myers alleged that appellees illegally and erroneously changed the boundary line established by the General Assembly in 1835. Finally, as to Count III, Myers demanded the "full balance of compensatory damages due [to him] from the [2006] claim" in the amount of $700, 000.00. Myers sought the following relief from the circuit court:

Count I: "declare that Carroll County has, and must exercise, jurisdiction" over the ...

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