Shore county sued over farmland zoning

In what some see as a critical test of a recent Smart Growth law, environmental groups and some property owners have filed suit to overturn the recent decision by Queen Anne's County's commissioners to zone 525 acres of Eastern Shore farmland for development.

The suit, filed Thursday in Centreville, charges that the commissioners violated state law Nov. 8 in narrowly approving rezoning of four farm tracts, two of them in the headwaters of the Wye River and one in the Choptank River watershed. Joining in the suit are the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, the Mid-Shore Riverkeeper and Queen Anne's Conservation Association, along with neighboring property owners and other residents.

The suit contends the rezoning is inconsistent with Queen Anne's comprehensive plan for growth, which was updated just last year. All four properties are in areas designated to remain rural under the plan, the suit contends.

The General Assembly passed a law in 2009 requiring local governments to follow their comprehensive plans. The legislation was prompted by a dispute in Allegany County over the large-scale Terrapin Run development proposed next to Green Ridge State Forest.


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