Relating to Real Estate
Lot Recorded before 1977 Large Enough for Special Exception
In Gill v. Board of Appeals of Harford County, No. 0727, Sept. Term 2016 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. May 22, 2017), the Court of Special Appeals reversed the decision of the Board of Appeals of Harford County denying Elaine Gill’s application for a special exception for a personal-care boarding house.
Ms. Gill purchased a 1.83 acre lot of land in Fallston, which included a 1,488 square foot dwelling, with the intention of turning it into a personal-care boarding house facility, that is, a facility that provides personal care for three or more adults who are not related to the owner or provider. Gill filed an application for a special exception, but a hearing examiner read the zoning code to require that the minimum lot area was two acres. The Board of Appeals adopted the Hearing Examiner’s recommendation to deny the application, and the Circuit Court for Harford County affirmed.
On further appeal, the Court of Special Appeals held that a chart in the zoning ordinance sets forth the minimum lot size based on whether the lot was recorded before or after 1977. Because the subject property was recorded in 1959, it only needed to be 20,000 square feet. This minimum lot size would also apply to a single-family lot in the same district, depending on when the lot was recorded. The court held that the Board of Appeals erred as a matter of law in finding that there was a two acre minimum lot size. Because the Board of Appeals had not addressed the other factors relating to the application for a special exception, the Court of Special Appeals remanded the case for a decision on the merits, consistent with its ruling.
For questions, please contact Ed Levin (410) 576-1900.