Upon a challenge by groups and individuals, in Friends of Frederick County v. Town of New Market, 224 Md. App. 185 (2015), the Court of Special Appeals held that the comprehensive plan for future development adopted by the Town of New Market complied with Maryland state law.
In 2005 the Town of New Market (the “Town”), which is a municipal corporation in Frederick County, adopted a comprehensive plan (the “Plan”). On November 17, 2010 the Town amended the Plan by adding both a water resources element and a municipal growth element (the “MGE”). The MGE proposed the annexation of two farms that were adjacent to the Town. Upon annexation, the MGE proposed changing the agricultural zoning of the farms to more intense uses.
The challengers filed an action in the Circuit Court for Frederick County seeking to set aside the Plan, the MGE, and the rezoning. The circuit court granted the Town’s motion for summary judgment, and on appeal the Court of Special Appeals affirmed.
Under §3-201 of the Land Use Article of the Maryland Code, all comprehensive zoning efforts in Maryland are required to implement 12 principles or visions. Unless a municipality elects to participate in a county plan, it is required to have its own comprehensive plan. The challengers in this case asserted that comprehensive plans must contain factual determinations, not just policy statements, but neither the circuit court nor the Court of Special Appeals agreed with that. The Court of Special Appeals noted that the planning commission and the Town were acting in quasi-legislative and legislative capacities in preparing the Plan, so they do not need a record to provide a basis for their decisions.
The sole issue presented to the court was whether the Plan complied with the requirements of the Land Use Article. The Court of Special Appeals was satisfied that the circuit court had answered this question in the affirmative after a thorough analysis, and so the Court of Special Appeals affirmed. Rather than setting forth its own discussion of this issue, the Court of Special Appeals included as part of its opinion a lengthy excerpt from the decision of the circuit court.
For questions, please contact Ed Levin (410) 576-1900.