Argued: October 4, 2018
Circuit Court for Prince George's County Case No.
Barbera, C.J., Greene, [*] Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Hotten,
present appeal, we are asked to determine whether a proposed
municipal annexation, that encompasses an area consisting
entirely of tax-exempt properties, requires consent from the
owners of such properties pursuant to Local Government
Article ("LG") § 4-403(b)(2). Additionally, we
are asked to determine whether the proposed annexation plan
of the Town of Forest Heights ("Forest Heights")
attempts to usurp law enforcement jurisdiction over certain
lands contained within the proposed annexation area that are
owned and operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and
Planning Commission ("MNCPPC").
writ of certiorari, the Town of Forest Heights presents us
with the following questions for review:
1. Did the circuit court err when it invalidated two
resolutions of the Town of Forest Heights that, collectively,
annexed into the Town approximately 737 acres of land without
the consent of the owners of 25% of the assessed value of the
lands annexed by each resolution, where all the annexed lands
were tax-exempt, and where, consistent with City of
Salisbury v. Banker's Life, 21 Md.App. 396 (1974),
the owners of the lands were not required to provide their
consents to the annexation?
2. Did the circuit court err when it determined that a
portion of the Town's Annexation Plan violates Md. Code,
Local Gov't § 4-104(b) and Land Use §
17-303(a), and, as a result, ordered that the Town may not
exercise law enforcement on any land owned by
Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission?
answer both questions in the affirmative, finding first that
the 25% property owner consent requirement of LG §
4-403(b)(2) does not encompass tax-exempt property owners.
Second, we conclude that the language contained within the
annexation plan was appropriately conditioned as to avoid any
attempted divestment, duplication, or usurpation of law
enforcement jurisdiction over certain properties owned and
managed by MNCPPC.
Forest Heights is a municipal corporation located within
Prince George's County that spans 306 acres of land
southeast of Maryland's border with the District of
Columbia. In terms of municipal services, the Town provides
road maintenance, street lighting, garbage collection,
police, and code enforcement to its residents. Within the
borders of Forest Heights are two public parks owned and
maintained by Respondent, MNCPPC.
its incorporation in 1949, Forest Heights has extended its
corporate limits five times excluding the annexations at
issue within this appeal. On April 20, 2016, the Town Council
of Forest Heights introduced two annexation resolutions
titled annexation resolutions No. 01-2016 and
02-2016. The proposed extensions are comprised of
several tax-exempt properties owned by MNCPPC, Prince
George's County, the Board of Education of Prince
George's County, the State of Maryland, the United
States, and the Oxon Hill Methodist Church.
resolution No. 01-2016 encompasses 446.88 acres of land
located west of Forest Heights that extends to the boundary
line of Washington, D.C. The proposed annexation area of
resolution No. 01-2016 includes land owned by the federal
government, under the jurisdiction of the National Park
Service, including Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm,
land owned by MNCPPC.
resolution 02-2016 encompasses 289.97 acres of land located
to the south of Forest Heights. The land falling within the
proposed annexation area is owned by Prince George's
County, the Board of Education of Prince George's County,
MNCPPC, the State of Maryland, the federal government, and
the Oxon Hill Methodist Church. Specifically, the annexation
includes Oxon Hill Manor, the Potomac Vista Recreational
Area, Betty Blume Neighborhood Park, Southlawn Local Park,
John Hanson Montessori School, Oxon Hill High School, several
undeveloped lots, and portions of the Washington
Circumferential Highway, commonly known as the Capital
Beltway (i.e. Interstates 95 and 495).
the two annexation resolutions encompass an area of 736.85
acres which would more than double the corporate limits of
Forest Heights. The proposed annexation area contains no
residential properties and no registered voters reside
therein. Forest Heights did not obtain consent from any of
the property owners because the Town believed that - pursuant
to LG § 4-403 - such consent was not required because
all of the property owners enjoyed tax-exempt status. In
total, MNCPPC owns seven properties within the proposed
annexation area and Prince George's County owns one. All
properties involved in the proposed annexations are located
within a special district for planning and zoning demarcated
as the "Maryland-Washington Regional
District." In addition, the properties also fall
within a largely overlapping special district for managing
parklands known as the "Maryland-Washington Metropolitan
2014, Forest Heights attempted to annex the same properties
at issue within the instant appeal. Although the State and
federal governments did not object to the prior annexation
attempt, Prince George's County ("the County")
and MNCPPC opposed the annexation and spearheaded a judicial
challenge in response. In that case, the attempted annexation
was invalidated due to certain procedural
April 20, 2016, Forest Heights adopted annexation plans for
annexation resolutions No. 01-2016 and 02-2016. A public
hearing regarding the two annexation resolutions was held on
June 6, 2016, and the resolutions were passed. On the same
day, both MNCPPC and Prince George's County submitted
letters of opposition to Jacqueline Goodall, the Mayor of
Forest Heights, requesting that the properties under their
jurisdiction be removed from the annexation areas.
month later, MNCPPC and the County filed a complaint for
declaratory judgment in the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County challenging both annexations and seeking
a declaratory judgment that the annexation resolutions were a
nullity. The complaint against Forest Heights joined as
parties the State of Maryland and the federal government. On
August 25, the State of Maryland filed a notice of voluntary
dismissal pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-506(a) to be excluded
from the matter. Similarly, on November 21, the United States
government filed a stipulation of dismissal. The circuit
court granted both motions for dismissal.
Heights filled a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment on
October 31, 2016 and renewed this Motion on April 10, 2017.
Nine days later, MNCPPC filed a response to Forest
Heights' motion accompanied by its own motion for summary
judgment. After a hearing held on June 21, 2017, the circuit
court issued a written opinion and order dated January 29,
2018, in which it found the annexation resolutions to be null
and void. Specifically, the court found the Town's
failure to obtain consent from the property owners fatal to
the annexation and determined the annexation plan
impermissibly attempted to divest law enforcement
jurisdiction from MNCPPC.
notice of appeal of the circuit court's judgment was
filed on February 23, 2018, by Forest Heights. While the
appeal was pending before the Court of Special Appeals,
Forest Heights filed a petition for writ of certiorari with
this Court, which we granted on June 1, 2018. Town of
Forest Heights v. Md.-National Capital Park and Planning
Comm'n, 459 Md. 400 (2018). Additional facts will be
provided throughout our analysis.
cases where the focus is statutory interpretation, this
Court's primary goal is to ascertain the purpose and
intention of the General Assembly when they enacted the
statutory provisions. Washington Gas Light Co. v.
Maryland Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 460 Md. 667, 682 (2018)
(citing Shealer v. Straka, 459 Md. 68, 84 (2018)).
We have previously commented that within the context of
[t]his Court provides judicial deference to the policy
decisions enacted into law by the General Assembly. We assume
that the legislature's intent is expressed in the
statutory language and thus our statutory interpretation
focuses primarily on the language of the statute to determine
the purpose and intent of the General Assembly. We begin our
analysis by first looking to the normal, plain meaning of the
language of the statute, reading the statute as a whole to
ensure that no word, clause, sentence or phrase is rendered
surplusage, superfluous, meaningless or nugatory. If the
language of the statute is clear and unambiguous, we need not
look beyond the statute's provisions and our analysis
ends. Occasionally we see fit to examine extrinsic sources of
legislative intent merely as a check of our reading of a
statute's plain language. In such instances, we may find
useful the context of a statute, the overall statutory
scheme, and archival legislative history of relevant
Brown v. State, 454 Md. 546, 550-51 401 (2017)
(citing Phillips v. State, 451 Md. 180, 196-197
(2017)). Additionally, we have indicated that, in situations
where "the plain language of a statute is 'subject
to more than one reasonable interpretation, the statutory
language is ambiguous.'" Koste v. Town of
Oxford, 431 Md. 14, 29 (2013) (quoting Lockshin v.
Semsker, 412 Md. 257, 276 (2010)). Further,
[w]here the words of a statute are ambiguous and subject to
more than one reasonable interpretation, or where the words
are clear and unambiguous when viewed in isolation, but
become ambiguous when read as part of a larger statutory
scheme, a court must resolve the ambiguity by searching for
legislative intent in other indicia, including the history of
the legislation or other relevant sources intrinsic and
extrinsic to the legislative process.
Gardner v. State, 420 Md. 1, 9 (2011) (quoting
State v. Johnson, 415 Md. 413, 421-22 (2010)).
addition, this Court's inquiry is not limited to the
particular statutory provisions at issue on appeal. Rather,
as we have recently noted, "[t]his Court may also
analyze the statute's 'relationship to earlier and
subsequent legislation, and other material that fairly bears
on the fundamental issue of legislative purpose or goal,
which becomes the context within which we read the particular
language before us in a given case.'" Blackstone
v. Sharma, 461 Md. 86, 114 (2018) (quoting
Kaczorowski v. Mayor & City Council of
Baltimore, 309 Md. 505, 515 (1987)).
11E of the Maryland Constitution, commonly referred to as the
"Municipal Home Rule Amendment" was enacted by act
of the General Assembly and ratified by voters in November
1954. 1954 Md. Laws ch. 53; Legis. Council of Md., Report
to the General Assembly of 1955,
This constitutional amendment granted specific home rule
powers to municipalities. Md. Const., art. 11E. After the
ratification of Article 11E, it was necessary for the General
Assembly to pass new legislation to create a statutory scheme
to implement this home rule authority. Legis. Council of Md.,
Report to the General Assembly of 1955, 308.
1955, the General Assembly enacted the predecessor to the
current Subtitle 4 of the Local Government Article. Article
23A § 19, (1955 Md. Laws ch. 423; Legis. Council of Md.,
Report to the General Assembly of 1955, 3, 217). In
their report to the General Assembly, the Legislative Council
of Maryland explained that the legislation proposed for
introduction in 1955 was a companion to the 1954
Constitutional Amendment and was necessary for the newly
established municipal home-rule powers by "establishing
procedures to be followed in amending town charters,
repealing town charters, [and] annexing territory to
towns[.]" Legis. Council of Md., Report to the
General Assembly of 1955, 217.
the power of annexation was not constitutionally granted to
municipalities by the 1954 Constitutional Amendment, the
statute passed the following year granted municipalities the
authority to annex real property to expand their corporate
limits. 1955 Md. Laws ch. 423. See generally LG
§ 4-401 (empowering municipalities to annex lands that
are "contiguous and adjoining" to the borders of
the municipality, not contained within another municipality,
and which will not create an "enclave" - an
unincorporated area surrounded on all sides by land within a
municipality); LG § 4-403 (imposing certain limits on
the annexation powers of a municipal corporation).
there are two ways through which a municipality may initiate
an annexation - by petition or through municipal legislative
enactment. LG § 4-415(d). See also LG
§§ 4-404, 4-403. First, an annexation may be
initiated by petition if it is signed by a certain percentage
of registered voters residing within the proposed annexation
area and a certain percentage of those owning property within
the area. LG § 4-404(a). Next, the presiding officer of
a municipality's legislative body must verify that the
petition meets the statutory requirements and then must
introduce a related annexation resolution before the
municipal legislative body. LG § 4-404(b), (c).
second method, which was used by Forest Heights in the
present appeal, commences with an annexation resolution
introduced before the appropriate municipal legislative body.
Such resolution must be filed in accordance with the
procedure for municipal legislative enactments and amendments
applicable to the municipality's charter. LG §
4-403(a). A municipality's ability to annex territory is
limited by certain consent requirements, which - in some
circumstances - require the municipality to obtain a certain
level of consent from any registered voters residing within
the area and from those who own property within the area.
See LG § 4-403(b). An annexation resolution
must describe the area intended to be annexed and provide a
"detailed description of the conditions and
circumstances that apply to: (i) the change in boundaries;
and (ii) the residents and property in the area to be
annexed." LG § 4-403(c).
The 25% Consent Requirement of LG § 4-403(b)(2) Does Not
Require Consent from the Owners of Tax-Exempt Property.
LG § 4-401 is the primary source of authority through
which a municipality may annex territories and expand its
corporate boundaries, LG § 4-403(b) limits such
annexation powers by requiring the consent of both registered
voters and property owners in the manner provided by the
statute which, in pertinent part, provides the following:
(b) Before an annexation resolution is introduced, the
legislative body shall obtain consent from:
(1) at least 25% of the registered voters who are residents
in the area to be annexed; and
(2) the owners of at least 25% of the assessed valuation of
the real property in the area to be annexed.
LG. § 4-403(b). For the annexation proposed by Forest
Heights, no registered voters resided within the areas
encompassed by annexation resolutions 01-2016 and 02-2016.
Thus, our primary focus is the 25% consent requirement of LG
§ 4-403(b)(2) and whether the consent of tax-exempt
property owners is mandated. Put narrowly, our analysis will
focus on the term "assessed valuation" as utilized
within LG § 4-403(b)(2) and whether tax-exempt
properties contribute to and constitute part of the assessed
valuation of a proposed annexation area.
to 1971, tax-exempt property was not assessed for taxation.
Legis. Council of Md., Report to the General Assembly of
1955, at 209-10 (1954); City of Salisbury v.
Banker's Life, 21 Md.App. 396, 404 (1974).
Consequently, tax-exempt property included within an area
that a municipality intended to annex prior to 1971 did not
have an "assessed valuation" and, therefore,
municipalities were not required to obtain consent from such
1971, the General Assembly enacted a statute that requires
that tax-exempt property be assessed. 1971 Md. Laws ch. 361
§ 1; Banker's Life, 21 Md.App. at 403-04.
Initially codified as Article 81, § 232B, these
statutory provisions are currently § 7-106 of the Tax -
Property Article ("TP") and provide the following:
(a) Except for real property owned by the federal government,
real property that is exempt by law from the property tax
shall be assessed under this article and in the manner
required by the Director.
(b) The assessments of exempt real property shall be
maintained in the records of the Department and of the
supervisor in each county in which the exempt property is
(c) For the purpose of distributing State funds, the
assessments of exempt property may not be included in the
total assessment of all property.
present appeal, Forest Heights and Amicus Curiae, Maryland
Municipal League, Inc. ("MML"), argue that the
General Assembly's enactment of Article 81, § 232B
created ambiguity into the overarching statutory scheme
regulating annexations. Primarily, they argue that this
ambiguity was an unintended consequence which left one unable
to discern, purely based on reference to LG § 4-403,
whether the owners of tax-exempt properties ought to be
included in consideration of the 25% consent requirement of
LG § 4-403(b)(2).
other hand, MNCPPC asserts that the statute is not ambiguous
and, under its plain language, municipalities must obtain
consent from the owners of tax-exempt properties. In
contrast, Forest Heights and MML rely upon the Court of
Special Appeals' decision in Banker's Life
which held that, pursuant to Art. 23A, § 19(b), a
municipality is not required to obtain consent from the
owners of tax-exempt properties to effectuate an annexation.
Having established the relevant facts, the parties'
respective arguments and the underlying statutory framework,
we must now embark upon our journey of statutory
interpretation - an expedition that commences with a
determination of whether the language of LG §
4-403(b)(2) is ambiguous.
accordance with the principles of statutory interpretation
mentioned above, we begin our inquiry by looking to the plain
language of the statute to discern whether any ambiguity
exists. On its face, LG § 4-403(b)(2) is confusing
because although the term "assessed valuation"
likely was intended to mean the value assessed to a
particular property for taxation purposes, the term is not
defined within the Local Government Article. The
"assessed valuation" of residential or commercial
properties in the context of municipal annexations is easily
understood. However, within the context of tax-exempt
properties, the statute's meaning is uncertain because
such properties are not subject to taxation. Thus, we must
determine whether a tax-exempt property is assessed and
valued for tax purposes by looking beyond the plain language
of LG § 4-403.
are potentially two different interpretations of the
provision at issue. Forest Heights and MML interpret the term
"assessed valuation" as excluding tax-exempt
property and, therefore, contend that the consent of
tax-exempt property owners is not required under the statute.
Conversely, MNCPPC argues that the statutory language is
clear on its face and "assessed valuation"
encompasses tax-exempt property and therefore mandates that
an annexation requires consent from such property
is present in situations where there are multiple reasonable,
yet differing, interpretations of the same statutory
provision. Koste, 431 Md. at 29. See also
Gardner, 420 Md. at 9. In terms of the provision at
issue, no statutory definitions within the Local Government
Article aid in determining the meaning of "assessed
valuation." As previously mentioned, the introduction of
TP § 7-106 complicated Maryland's statutory
framework surrounding municipal annexations. Prior to its
passage in 1971, it is clear that tax-exempt property was not
assessed and could not be subject to the 25% consent
requirement of LG § 4-403(b)(2).
the words "assess(ed)" and "valuation"
are not defined within the Local Government Article, the Tax
- Property Article does contain definitions for the terms
"assess" and "assessment." See
TP § 1-101. The definition of "assess" differs
depending upon whether the property in question is real or
personal property. In terms of real property, the statute
defines "assess" as "determin[ing] the
phased-in full cash value or use value to which the property
tax rate may be applied[.]" TP § 1-101(b).
Similarly, for real property, the statute defines the term
"assessment" as meaning "the phased-in full
cash value or use value to which the property tax rate may be
applied." TP § 1-101(c).
on these statutory definitions, it is evident that the word
"assessment" is an estimate of the value of a
property which is then used to determine the overall tax
liability due on that particular property. Tax-exempt
property is assessed but not taxed. Forest Heights notes that
tax-exempt property is "not subject to… the
burdens of supporting a municipal government," and,
therefore, does not appear on the tax roll. See TP
§ 7-210(a) (exempting from property tax any lands owned
by federal, State, county, municipal corporation, or an
agency or instrumentality of the preceding entities).
defined by the Tax - Property Article, an "assessment
roll" is "the official listing of assessments of
property required under § 2-202(3) of this
article." TP § 1-101(d). TP § 2-202(3)
provides that the Director of the State Department of
Assessments and Taxation has the power "to direct that
the Department enter all taxable property on the assessment
rolls, and regardless of whether the property is owned by an
individual, corporation, or some other person, to value alike
all property of a like kind." TP § 2-202(3).
Additionally, the Article defines a "tax roll" as
"the assessment roll to which the property tax rate has
been applied and on which the property tax on each property
is shown." TP § 1-101(nn).
these two distinct types of rolls exist that reinforce the
distinction between assessment and taxation. The assessment
rolls contain the list of all properties that are assessed;
in contrast, tax rolls are a specific type of assessment roll
- one to which the tax rate is applied to calculate the tax
burden associated with a particular property. Tax-exempt
properties are assessed and appear on an assessment roll yet
do not appear on a tax roll. Prior to the enactment of Art.
81, § 232B in 1971, tax exempt properties were not
assessed and there was no distinction between tax and
assessment rolls. Clearly, at the time, tax exempt properties
were not considered relative to the 25% consent requirement.
Banker's Life, 21 Md.App. at
Legislative Council's Report to the General Assembly of
1971 provides the following explanation for the adoption of
Art. 81, § 232B:
This legislation offered by the Committee on Taxation and
Fiscal Matters is related to the property tax rearrangement
legislation. Although it arose from 1970 bills requiring the
making of payments-in-lieu of taxes for some kinds of tax
exempt property, the Committee found that it was impossible
to consider those bills properly because tax exempt property
is not valued and assessed. The Committee feels that
the lack of any valuation for tax exempt property is an
oversight in the State's property and assessment laws
which needs to be corrected. This information will
provide a basis for consideration of payments-in-lieu
proposals and also for evaluation of property tax exemptions.
The bill below provides that exempt property will be valued,
as the Department of Assessments and Taxation directs, by
teams of assessors and completed by January 1, 1973. The
valuations will be maintained separately and will not affect
any assessable base on which State aid is computed.
Council of Md., Report to the General Assembly of
1971, 253 (emphasis added). Clearly, in drafting Art.
81, § 232B, the General Assembly had intended to solve
the policy issue that the State lacked any methodology of
determining the potential value of tax-exempt properties for
calculating payment-in-lieu of taxes proposals.
the Legislative Council's Report of 1971 indicates that
the policy supporting the assessment of tax-exempt properties
is to "provide a basis for consideration of
payments-in-lieu proposals and also for evaluation of
property tax exemptions." Id. Although payments
in lieu of taxes ("PILOTs") have been broadly
expanded in present times,  they were historically
interrelated to attempts to reduce the financial impact of
State or federal tax exemptions on localities. For example,
in the 1960s, the statute governing the enumeration of
taxable property, e.g. Art. 81, § 8, contained a
provision under which individuals who leased or borrowed
certain lands from the federal government for specific
for-profit purposes,  were subject to taxation as if they
were the owner of the property. Art. 81, § 8(e).
However, this provision did not apply to "federal or
State property for which negotiated payments are made in lieu
of taxes." Id. Because property held by such
entities was tax exempt, local governments would have
difficulty determining the sufficiency of an entity's
payment in lieu of tax relative to the value of property the
entity held. As indicated by the Council's report, this
was the foremost and primary reason the General Assembly
enacted 1971 Md. Laws ch. 361 § 1.
General Assembly did not express an intention to modify the
statutory framework surrounding municipal annexations because
it never referenced the relevant statutory provisions
regarding municipal home rule. Accordingly, we conclude that
the General Assembly's introduction and enactment of 1971
Md. Laws ch. 361 § 1 was aimed at solving "an
oversight in the State's property and assessment
laws" and the General Assembly had no intention of
modifying the statutory framework surrounding municipal
annexations. Legis. Council of Md., Report to the General
Assembly of 1971, 253-54. The General Assembly
intended only to modify and improve the State's ability
to account for tax-exempt properties existing within the
State. Moreover, this legislative history is devoid of any
indication that the General Assembly intended to alter the
25% consent requirement or amend municipal annexations
counties and certain planning agencies do not have a
statutory right to veto municipal annexations, the General
Assembly has provided to them certain procedural leverage
over the annexation process. The relevant statute was enacted
in 1975, (1975 Md. Laws ch. 693 (H.B. 534)), and is currently
codified in Title 4 of the Local Government Article. First,
LG § 4-406 provides that a municipality must provide
notice of an annexation to the governing body of the county
in which the municipality is located and any regional or
State planning agencies with jurisdiction within the county.
LG § 4-406(c). Second, county, State, and regional
planning agencies possess the "first right to be
heard" at public annexation hearings. LG §
4-406(d). Third, a county's governing body by a
two-thirds vote may require that the annexation be put to
referendum within the proposed annexation area. LG §
4-410. This essentially halts a municipality's annexation
resolution pending a successful referendum.
Forest Heights and MML argue that even though counties enjoy
the right to petition a proposed annexation to referendum,
the legislative history of H.B. 534 indicates that the
General Assembly did not intend to grant counties the
authority or ability to veto a proposed municipal annexation.
When attempting to ascertain legislative intent, this Court
focuses on the specific intent of the General Assembly and
not the intent of witnesses supporting or opposing a
particular piece of proposed legislation. Anne Arundel
County v. City of Annapolis, 352 Md. 117, 128 n.4
witness testimony contributes to statutory interpretation
because "[a]lthough the comments of those witnesses do
not reflect legislative intent directly, they do help
indirectly by identifying the issues the Legislature sought
to address." Id. In his testimony on H.B. 534,
Jon Burrell (at that time Executive Director of MML) stated
that MML had historically opposed granting counties the
authority to force an annexation to referendum but that a
compromise was reached between MML and the Maryland
Association of Counties ("MACo"). See
Bill File to H.B. 534, Testimony - Statement of Jon Burrell,
MML, in support of H.B. 534 (1975). Mr. Burrell testified
that the introduction of the two-thirds referendum
requirement was intended merely to protect counties from
municipal annexations in situations where a municipal
corporation had not provided the county with an adequate
justification. Id. Specifically, he testified
that the referendum provision
would give assurance to the county government that, if they
felt a referendum was not held because of lack of sufficient
knowledge of [the effects] of annexation or because the
petition fell just short of the requisite number of
signatures, they then would have a remedy to force a
referendum in the area to be annexed while drawing attention
to their reasons for defeating the proposed annexation.
addition to the above testimony, the Attorney General has
issued several opinions regarding the interplay between a
property's tax-exempt status and municipal annexation.
Although opinions by the Attorney General are merely
persuasive and not binding upon this Court, they are afforded
considerable weight within the context of statutory
interpretation. State v. Crescent Cities Jaycees
Foundation, Inc., 330 Md. 460, 470 (1993); Read Drug
& Chem. Co. v. Claypoole, 165 Md. 250, 257 (1933).
In considering opinions by the Attorney General, this Court
has previously commented that "[t]he Legislature is
presumed to be aware of the Attorney General's statutory
interpretation and, in the absence of enacting any change to
the statutory language, to acquiesce in the Attorney
General's construction." Chesek v. Jones,
406 Md. 446, 463 (2008) (citing Read Drug & Chemical
Co., 165 Md. at 257-58); Crescent Cities Jaycees
Foundation, Inc., 330 Md. at 470.
1981, the Attorney General provided an unpublished opinion to
Lawrence E. Speelman, the county attorney for Frederick
County, regarding a county's ability to veto a proposed
municipal annexation.  66 Op. Att'y Gen. Md. 267 (1981).
The synopsis printed in the published volumes of the Attorney
General summaries the opinion as follows:
Under Article 23A, § 19, counties do not have the power
to consent to or to veto a municipal annexation of territory,
even where county-owned land is located in that territory.
However, counties do have the right to be notified of the
proceedings, to be heard first at a public hearing, to
receive an outline for the extension of services and public
facilities to the territory to be annexed, and to petition
the annexation resolution to a public referendum of the
residents in that territory.
subsequent opinion by the Attorney General considered whether
the City of Havre de Grace could annex an uninhabited island
located in the Susquehanna River. 87 Md. Att'y Gen. Op.
161 (2002). In a footnote, the Attorney General indicated
that Maryland has "a policy against a county referendum
or veto." Id. Further, in distinguishing
between a county's ability to veto by forcing an
annexation to a county-wide referendum, the Attorney General
opined, "[t]his amendment was the result of
deliberations by representatives of the Maryland Municipal
League and the Maryland Association of Counties. The purpose
of the legislation ...