Court of Ap­peals dis­misses suit over KI sewer ac­cess

Record Observer - - News - By AN­GELA PRICE bay­times@kibay­

BAL­TI­MORE — The U.S. Cour t of Ap­peals for the Fourth Cir­cuit has af­firmed the 2015 U.S. Dis­trict Court’s dis­missal of the law­suit filed by Kevin Quinn and his com­pany, Queen Anne’s Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Corp., over de­nial of ac­cess to sewer on south­ern Kent Is­land.

In the July 7 opin­ion, Judge J. Harvie Wilkin­son III, wrote, “Kevin Quinn, a landowner, chal­lenges a com­pre­hen­sive plan to ex­tend sewer ser­vice to South Kent Is­land and a so-called Grand­fa­ther/Merger Pro­vi­sion de­signed to limit overde­vel­op­ment of the area. He asks us to protect a spec­u­la­tive land in­vest­ment by find­ing a reg­u­la­tory tak­ing as well as vi­o­la­tions of his due process and equal pro­tec­tion rights. Do­ing so, how­ever, would in­val­i­date a stan­dard zon­ing tool whose le­git­i­macy was re­cently up­held by the Supreme Court. It would also rev­o­lu­tion­ize zon­ing law and ‘frus­trate mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ abil­ity’ to un­der­take ba­sic land use plan­ning.”

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 14-07, passed as part of the south­ern Kent Is­land sewer project. The original law­suit was filed Nov. 10, 2014.

The county wel­comed news of the lat­est rul­ing as work con­tin­ued on phase one of the South­ern Kent Is­land San­i­tar y Project.

“County Or­di­nance 1324 was en­acted not to take prop­erty rights from in­di­vid­ual prop­erty own­ers in the nine South­ern Kent Is­land San­i­tary Project com­mu­ni­ties but rather to en­sure that a man­age­able build­out of va­cant lots (1,600 re­duced to a max­i­mum of 634) oc­curred with­out neg­a­tively im­pact­ing the com­mu­ni­ties or put un­due stress on county ser­vices,” said Com­mis­sioner James Mo­ran in a state­ment. “Hav­ing the fed­eral Fourth Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals up­hold this en­sures that the en­tire project is fea­si­ble and can be com­pleted.”

Con­trac­tors are cur­rently in­stalling tanks at res­i­dences in Kent Is­land Es­tates, and the main sewer trans­mis­sion line was laid in front of the Mat­a­peake school com­plex last week, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works.

“We are grate­ful to the Fourth Cir­cuit’s pos­i­tive rul­ing on this case and we want to thank Kurt Fis­cher, our lawyer who guided us on the craft­ing of County Or­di­nance 13-24 to en­sure that it would with­hold le­gal chal­lenges,” said County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gregg Todd.

How­ever, Quinn isn’t giv­ing up. The July 7 af­fir­ma­tion of the lower court came af­ter the case was ar­gued be­fore a three-judge panel. Quinn plans to ask the full panel of judges to hear the case and said he will file the re­quest Fri­day, July 21.

“The county is not be­ing fair … not only with us, but with other prop­erty own­ers,” Quinn said. “It’s just not fair for county govern­ment, for any govern­ment, to se­lect cer­tain classes of people (to tar­get). … We think the county is wrong — they’re def­i­nitely dis­crim­i­nat­ing.”

Quinn main­tains the county hasn’t fol­lowed the proper steps in tak­ing his prop­erty rights.

“The fact you do not want growth is not a le­git­i­mate rea­son,” he said.

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 ex­pan-


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

Con­trac­tors con­tinue work on phase one of the South­ern Kent Is­land San­i­tary Project.

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