Appeal filed on ruling for Four Seasons
CENTREVILLE — A Circuit Court judge’s decision to uphold the wetlands license for the proposed Four Seasons housing development has been appealed by environmental groups to a higher court.
The appeal doesn’t theoretically stop the developer, K. Hovnanian Homes, from proceeding with construction until a higher court stops it. The Queen Anne’s county government has already approved phase one of the project which is 162 residential units, a mix of single-family homes and condominiums on Castle Marina Road. The total project is 1,079 units.
Last month, Retired Judge John W. Sause Jr. of the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County affirmed the state Board of Public Works’ decision to issue a wetlands license, which the project requires.
The judge’s decision was entered in the docket on Sept. 20, and the petitioners, mostly environmental groups, had 30 days to appeal, which they did on the last possible day, Thursday, Oct. 20.
A spokesman for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, one of the petitioners, said the group’s appeal was filed in Circuit
Court, but it will be heard by the Court of Special Appeals.
“The Circuit Court committed reversible error and we identified a special issue,” said Paul Smail, attorney with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “...We identified [at least] one question we would like the appellant court to review.”
Smail declined to name those issues for the time being, but the issues would be identified in about 10 days in an informational report filed with the Court of Special Appeals. He represents the other petitioners as well, including the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, Midshore Riverkeeper Conser vancy, the Chester River Association and two private residents.
The petitioners needed to wait until the last minute to appeal because of the time needed to review the judge’s 65-page-long opinion, and there are several environmental groups involved, Smail said.
The Court of Special Appeals may not hear the appeal until early next year, but it will depend on the court when that will be, he said.
“We believe Judge Sause’s ruling had some errors and we are looking for ward to challenging his decision,” said Jay Falstad, executive director of Queen Anne’s Conser vation Association.
Like the lawyer, Falstad declined to discuss the issues involved in the appeal, but said the appeal will be articulated in the informational document filed later.
When reached for comment,
an attorney for the developer, preferred to make a short statement. “Our company will evaluate the appeal and decide how to proceed,” Joe Stevens said.
The wetlands license, which the Circuit Court upheld, allows the developer to install a sewer line under Cox Creek, construct a community pier, and for stormwater management.
On the county level, there are some minor issues to work out before construction.
The developer is updating bonds needed to guarantee work on the project and the company is moving forward in submitting subdivision plats to the county for final signature, said Steven Cohoon, public facilities planner for Queen Anne’s County.
The bonds guarantee the developer’s work on road improvements, sewer line construction and storm water management, Cohoon said. New construction estimates are needed to update the bonds from 2005 when the Planning Commission approved the first part of the project.
This past August, the county’s Board of Appeals in August dismissed an appeal by the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association and instead approved the subdivision and site plan for phase one of the development, upholding the earlier decision of the Planning Commission.
At the present time, the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association hasn’t appealed the Board of Appeals’ decision, Falstad said on Monday, Oct. 24.
“We received the Board of Appeals’ decision last week, and we’re in the process of reviewing it,” he said.