It was all hugs and congratulations yesterday, as anti-Wal-Mart activist watch a Maryland judge reject a developer’s appeal against a county commissioner’s decision that prevented a superstore. According to local activists, a Queen Anne’s County, MD Circuit court on Monday denied the proposed Kent Commons development petition for a Writ of Mandamus to compel the county commissioners to change their decision to deny the water and sewer allocation for the proposed WalMart, hotel, and six pad sites to include fast food restaurants. In his decision, the judge ruled that the commissioners were within their authority to allow this huge development at the expense of dozens of smaller projects would be a greater disservice. “Do the best for the most” is the goal of all government agencies and in this case to give 25 percent of the remaining capacity could result in others suing for the same sort of claim. The judge admonished several lawyers and witnesses. He demonstrated a fine understanding of the law in interpreting the objections of the defense attorney representing the commissioners in the trial. The developers claimed that the commissioners were being “arbitrary and capricious” in granting prelininary approval, allowing the developer to spend in excess of $400,000.00 and then denying the necessary approval for water and sewer. The commissioners acknowledged substantial public outcry factored in their decision. Complying with the developer’s subpoena, the commissioners, under oath testified that traffic and safety concerns lead to their decision. In rendering his decision, the Judge said “Thank God I do not have to make decisions like this every day like these commissioners do”. Joseph Stevens, lawyer for the developers, then made a motion to compel the commissioners to re-hear the project in a “phased in” process. Stevens asked that the commissioners let him know what (water/sewer allocation) he can have so a part of the project could proceed. This motion was immediately denied. Upon exiting the courtroom, the Judge admonished the attornys to “go forth and sin no more”. Representatives of Up Against the Wal, a local association of citizens opposing the project hugged, congratulated and thanked the three county commissioners for holding a strong position and supporting the needs of the citizens. One of the developers of the hotel segment of the Kent Commons project said that WalMart would back out of the project if unable to proceed by the end of September. The developers had suggested a compromise of building the project and replacing the WalMart and pad sites with 250 town homes and a grocery store.
Another community slam-dunks Wal-Mart — and then gets the court to agree! For more information on the Kent Island case see earlier newsflashes (below), and contact [email protected]