“I believe the Court of Appeals will determine that a jury of Harford County citizens carefully considered the complete record of public evidence kept by the county over the last 25 years and the testimony of all witnesses called in this unfortunate abuse of government power,” said Richard Schafer, MRA’s founder and president.
The high court will find there was no prejudice to the county in the jury’s verdict, he said.
“They only recognized the common sense of the fundamental unfairness of the county’s excuse to taking a fellow citizen’s property without ‘just compensation,’” Schafer said.
On the advice of its lawyers in the case, the county government had no comment on the high court’s decision to hear the case, Cindy Mumby, spokesperson for Harford County government, said.
The Court of Appeals is expected to hear the case during its March term, according to an order from Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera.
In August, Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals reversed a judgment that had been awarded in April 2018 by a Harford County grand jury, which had ruled that the county government had engaged in a “regulatory taking” of Maryland Reclamation Associates’ 55-acre property in the Gravel Hill community near Havre de Grace.
The county was ordered to pay $45.4 million to MRA but declined and appealed to the state court after the county trial judge rejected its appeal of the jury’s verdict.
MRA had been working since 1989 to develop a facility on its property to handle rubble, construction debris and other waste. MRA had sought county approvals to develop the rubblefill, but the county enacted laws in the early 1990s making the process of developing such a facility much more difficult, and local zoning authorities denied the company’s application for variances.
The company has sought legal relief at the county and state level over the years, and the case went to Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, in 2010. The high court ruled in favor of the county, though.
MRA filed another lawsuit in 2013, and that case came before a jury in 2018. Lawyers for Harford County argued in state court that MRA was not in compliance with the state’s statute of limitations when filing its most recent lawsuit, an argument the appeals court upheld.