Prop­erty owner ap­peals dis­missal of sewer case

Record Observer - - News - By AN­GELA PRICE bay­times@kibay­times.com

BAL­TI­MORE — Kevin Quinn and his com­pany, Queen Anne’s Re­search and Development Corp., have filed an ap­peal of a U.S. Dis­trict Court judge’s 2015 dis­missal of a civil case in which he sued Queen Anne’s County and the Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment be­cause his prop­erty was ex­cluded from the South Kent Is­land sewer project ser­vice area.

Quinn sued the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers, the Queen Anne’s County San­i­tary Com­mis­sion, Sec­re­tary of the En­vi­ron­ment Robert M. Sum­mers and the Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment in fed­eral court over County Or­di­nance 13-14 and Res­o­lu­tion 1407, passed as part of the south­ern Kent Is­land sewer project. The orig­i­nal law­suit was filed Nov. 10, 2014.

Quinn has lived and owned prop­erty on south­ern Kent Is­land for more than 30 years. He wants sewer ser­vice, but the plans cre­ated by the county and state to limit ac­cess in­ter­fere with his con­sti­tu­tional rights, Quinn said.

Un­der Or­di­nance 13-24, own­ers of ad­join­ing lots zoned NC-20 (neigh­bor­hood con­ser­va­tion) are re­quired to merge sub­stan­dard lots, iden­ti­fied as lots con­sist­ing of less than 20,000 square feet. The nine com­mu­ni­ties tar­geted for sewer ex­pan­sion, Mat­a­peake Estates, Nor­mans, Sunny Isle of Kent, Ch­e­sa­peake Estates, Kent­morr, Queen Anne Colony, Kent Is­land Estates, Tower Gar­dens and Ro­man­coke on the Bay, are all zoned NC20.

Quinn owns prop­erty in Tower Gar­dens and Kent­morr. Queen Anne’s Re­search and Development Corp. owns more than 200 lots in the area of Kent­morr and Queen Anne’s Colony.

Res­o­lu­tion 14-07 es­tab­lished the South Kent Is­land Waste­water Sub­dis­trict, defin­ing its bound­aries and fi­nanc­ing a pub­lic sewage col­lec­tion and trans­mis­sion sys­tem for it.

Quinn said the laws un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally tar­geted him and his prop­erty and elim­i­nated the prop­erty’s eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity.

He also al­leged MDE acted in vi­o­la­tion of his due process un­der the Four­teenth Amend­ment to the United States Con­sti­tu­tion by ap­prov­ing the 2011 Queen Anne’s County Com­pre­hen­sive Wa­ter and Sewer Plan, which ex­cluded Quinn’s parcels.

“This law­suit is about fair­ness,” Quinn said in a 2015 in­ter­view. “Fair­ness is the cor­ner­stone of our so­ci­ety. Is it fair to put a sewer line in front of and around plat­ted, recorded lots and not in­clude them in the ser­vice area when other va­cant lots are be­ing served?”

On Aug. 13, 2015, Judge Ge­orge L. Rus­sell III granted mo­tions to dis­miss filed by the county, MDE and Sum­mers. Rus­sell found Quinn failed to show his in­vest­ment was backed by any le­git­i­mate ex­pec­ta­tion that his parcels would be pro­vided with pub­lic sewer ser vice.

“While the chal­lenged ac­tion does cause some eco­nomic harm as­so­ci­ated with the loss of in­di­vid­ual un­re­stricted rights of ac­cess to the pri­vate beach­front and cer­tain Trans­ferrable Development Rights of each in­di­vid­ual lot, the Court finds that the lots are not stripped of all ben­e­fi­cial use be­cause they are sim­ply de­vel­opable as larger res­i­den­tial lots,” Rus­sell wrote in his opin­ion.

The judge agreed with the county’s ar­gu­ment that Quinn, while he might be the largest prop­erty owner af­fected, was not treated dif­fer­ently be­cause other own­ers of un­de­vel­oped lots are sub­ject to the same pro­vi­sions and also have been ex­cluded from the ser­vice area.

In his opin­ion, Rus­sell noted the specifics of the laws passed re­lat­ing to the South­ern Kent Is­land sewer project as “pro­mo­tion of the gen­eral wel­fare.”

Quinn filed the ap­peal with the United States Court of Ap­peals for the Fourth Cir­cuit on July 6; it was served and filed elec­tron­i­cally on Aug. 3.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

The com­mu­ni­ties that will be served by the pro­posed sewer sys­tem are high­lighted for the lower por­tion of Kent Is­land.

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